How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in Tennessee

Posted on 08/17/23 by Andrew Soergel, Elissa Chudwin, Rob Naylor

En español | Only certain Tennessee voters are eligible to vote absentee, but any voter can participate in early in-person voting. 

Memphis voters will cast ballots for mayor on Oct. 5, 2023. The next statewide elections are in 2024 and include races for seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state Legislature and other offices.

Essential info:

    • Absentee voting: Absentee by-mail ballots are available to certain voters, including anyone age 60 and older and people who will be traveling outside their county during early voting and on Election Day.

    • Voting at the polls: A federal or state-issued photo ID, such as a U.S. passport or Tennessee driver’s license, is required to vote on Election Day.

    What Do I Need To Know About the 2023 Mayoral Election in Memphis?

    Voters in the state's three largest cities — Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis — are electing mayors this year. Mayoral elections in Nashville and Knoxville are over. The Memphis mayoral election is Oct. 5, 2023. Find more information at the page below.

    GOP Senate Candidate Marsha Blackburn Campaigns In Franklin, Tennessee
    A voter walks into an early voting site in Franklin.

    Have there been any recent changes to voting in Tennessee?

    Redistricting in early 2022 has altered certain boundaries of U.S. congressional and state legislative districts. Litigation is ongoing.

    How do I register to vote?

    Register online, by mail or in person:

    • Online: Use the state’s voter registration portal to register or update your registration status. Include your name, date of birth and Social Security number. You’ll also need a Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security ID or a Tennessee driver’s license to submit your application.
    • By mail: Print a voter registration form, complete it and mail it to your county election commission office. Or contact your commission office to request that a form be mailed to you. You can also pick up a form at a public library or at a county election commission, a register of deeds or a county clerk’s office. 

    Check whether you’re registered to vote through the state’s voter information portal or through the GoVoteTN app.

    Does my party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries?

    No. Tennessee is an open primary state, and voters don’t choose a party when they register to vote. Voters can choose which party’s primary they vote in, but they can only choose one.

    How can I get an absentee by-mail ballot?

    Only some voters can request an absentee by-mail ballot, including anyone 60 or older, people who will be out of town throughout the early voting period and on Election Day, people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and anyone who is hospitalized or has a physical disability that prevents them from going to a polling place. A full list of valid reasons is on the secretary of state’s website.

    Apply for an absentee ballot online, by mail or by fax:

    • Online: Complete an absentee by-mail request form and email it to your county election commission office. Your email must include a picture of your signature as well as your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, a reason for voting absentee and the specific election for which you’re requesting a ballot. A ballot will then be mailed to you.

    Applications cannot be submitted in person. The deadline to apply for an absentee by-mail ballot will be listed on the secretary of state’s website closer to an election.

    How do I return my absentee ballot during an election?

    Only return completed ballots with proper postage by mail. Ballots must be received by your county election commission before polls close at 7 p.m. CT, 8 p.m. ET on Election Day.  

    Use the state’s voter services portal to track the status of your absentee ballot.

    Can I vote in person before Election Day?

    Any registered voter may vote early and in person at their county election commission office or a satellite location. Early voting usually begins 20 days before an election.

    What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?

    Polling hours vary by county, but all locations close at 7 p.m. CT, 8 p.m. ET. You will be able to cast a ballot after the polls close as long as you were already in line. Use the state’s voter services portal to find your polling place.

    Do I need identification to vote?

    You’ll need to show a federal or state-issued photo ID, such as a U.S. passport, Tennessee driver’s license or handgun carry permit. A full list of acceptable documents is on the secretary of state’s website.

    If you forget your ID at home, you may cast a provisional ballot when voting in person. You will then have until two business days after the election to show a valid photo ID to your county election commission’s office. While you’re there, you also must sign an affidavit.

    Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Aug. 10, 2023, with information about redistricting. The guide was first published on July 20, 2020. 

    Also of Interest:

      This story is provided by AARP Tennessee. Visit the AARP Tennessee page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

      More from AARP in Nashville

      Upcoming AARP Events

      View All AARP Events