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TN Vote Count Could Take Longer as Absentee Ballot Requests Smash Records

Historic numbers of Tennessee residents have either requested absentee ballots or voted early. (Adobe Stock)
Historic numbers of Tennessee residents have either requested absentee ballots or voted early. (Adobe Stock)
October 29, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Absentee voting in Tennessee has surged during the pandemic, prompting questions about how long it might take for election officials to tally votes.

Dawn Schluckebier, advocacy and government relations director for the nonpartisan nonprofit Think Tennessee, said so far, more than 160,000 absentee ballots have been requested; a 500% increase from the last two presidential elections.

She said election officials will need time to open every single mail-in ballot envelope, check voter signatures and scan ballots. She pointed out that process won't begin until after Nov. 3.

"Those votes don't get tallied, and those results of those votes aren't known until after the close of polls on Election Day," Schluckebier explained.

Schluckebier noted absentee ballots must be received by local county clerk's offices by the close of business on Election Day.

She urged residents who haven't yet mailed in their ballot to do so. Absentee ballots cannot be dropped off in person. Track the status of your mail-in ballot at tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup.

And she pointed out while voters expect election returns by the end of Election Night, official results always take a bit longer.

"The media projects the winner, but that is always a projection," Schluckebier cautioned. "The election results themselves aren't technically official until days, if not weeks after Election Day."

Residents who plan to head to the polls on Election Day can confirm their voter registration and look up their polling location online.

Anyone experiencing problems at the polls can call or text 1-866 OUR-VOTE to get help from a trained, nonpartisan election-protection volunteer.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN