Tennessee is one of the states (and one territory) that voted on “Super Tuesday”. This was the state the endured tornadoes the night before the primary.
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be 18 years of age or older on or before the date of the next election
- Must be a resident of Tennessee
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s website has information about voting in Tennessee. In order to be eligible to vote in Tennessee, you must:
There are some guidelines for determining residency:
- The residence of a person is the place where the person’s habitation is fixed and is where, during periods of absence, the person definitely intends to return.
- A person can have only one residence
- A change of residence is made not only by relocation, but also by intent to remain in the new location permanently, and by demonstrating actions consistent with that intention.
- The place where a married person’s spouse and family live is presumed to be that person’s residence, unless that person takes up or continues to abode with the intention of remaining in a place other than where the spouse and family live.
- No person gains or loses residency solely by presence in or absence from the state, or while a student at an institution of higher learning, or while kept in an institution at public expense.
If I’m understanding that last part correctly, it means that the State of Tennessee does not consider college or university students to be residents. I’m assuming this means the student must register to vote at their home address (which is likely their parent’s house). Students who came to Tennessee from out of state might not be eligible to vote in Tennessee.
Tennessee requires voters to present federal or Tennessee state ID containing the voter’s name and photograph when voting at the polls.
The following IDs may be used, even if expired:
- Tennessee driver license with your photo
- United States Passport
- Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
- Photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government
- United States Military photo ID
- Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo
What IDs are not acceptable? College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal of Tennessee state government are NOT acceptable. This includes county or city issued photo IDs, such as library cards and photo IDs issued by other states.
Put that together with the residency requirements, and I’m getting the feeling that the State of Tennessee really doesn’t want college or university students to be able to vote. College IDs are not acceptable. A Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo is acceptable – even if that permit has expired.
Tennessee has guidelines regarding Homeless Persons Residency.
In order to vote in Tennessee, a person does not have to live in a building. Instead, a person who finds himself or herself homeless must describe where the person usually stays or returns to when absent. This location may be the address of a shelter where the person stays or frequents, or it may be the description of a street corner where the person may often rest. A physical description of the location must be given so that the election commission knows in which voting precinct to place the person…
There is a potential problem that homeless people in Tennessee may face when trying to register to vote:
The election commission must mail voter registration cards to people who register to vote by mail. Therefore, if a homeless person tries to register by mail using an address where the person does not get the mail, the person will have to give a mailing address where he or she can receive mail. For example, a homeless voter may be able to use a shelter as a mailing address or the address of a family member or friend who agrees to receive the mail. Another option is to use General Delivery as a mailing address. However, please not that absentee ballot materials may not be mailed to “general delivery.”…
If a voter registration card is returned as undeliverable to the election commission, the voter will be mailed a confirmation notice and be placed on inactive status.
Fortunately, Tennessee gives residents who are eligible voters several ways to fill out a voter registration card. These options include:
- online voter registration
- download and complete the Voter Registration Application and mail the application to your county election commission
- Pick up voter registration applications in person at: County Election Commission Offices, County Clerk’s Offices, Public Libraries, or Register of Deeds Offices
- Register with one of the following agencies: Department of Health (WIC program); Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Department of Mental Health; Department of Safety (motor vehicles division); Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
The Tennessee Secretary of State website also provides very detailed information about whether or not a person who has a felony conviction can vote:
The Tennessee Constitution provides that the Tennessee legislation may deny the right to vote to persons who are convicted of “infamous” crimes. Pursuant to this provision in the Tennessee Constitution, the Tennessee legislature has excluded individuals convicted of various felonies from the right of suffrage.
However, the legislature has also established conditions with procedures through which individuals who have lost their voting rights may regain them. The manner in which a person may restore a lost voting right depends upon the crime committed and the year in which the conviction occurred. If your conviction has been expunged, you may answer “No” when asked if you have a felony conviction on the voter registration form.
The GoVoteTN App enables Tennessee voters to find their Election Day polling locations, view and mark sample ballots, see their elected officials, districts, and county election commission information as well as access online election results through the GoVoteTN app. It can be downloaded for free. It is not possible to actually cast a vote through the app.
Eligible voters in Tennessee have the option to vote early. For the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary, early voting started on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 to Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
On March 3, 2020, The Weather Channel posted an article titled: “Tennessee Tornado Death Toll Jumps to 19; Widespread Damage in Nashville, Middle Tennessee”. It was written by Roy Brackett. From the article:
At least 19 people have been killed and more than 20 hospitalized after multiple tornadoes touched down early Tuesday in Middle Tennessee, including one that shredded 40 buildings near downtown Nashville.
Tennessee Emergency Management Community Relations Officer Maggie Hannan confirmed that 19 people are dead across four countries, The Tennessean reported.
Nearly 20,000 homes and businesses remained without power as of 7:45 a.m. local time, according to poweroutage.us. That number was about 50,000 earlier. Nashville Electric tweeted that four substations and 15 primary distribution lines were damaged.
Overturned tractor-trailers blocked stretches of Interstate 24 near Antioch, Tennessee, and Interstate 40 near Mt. Juliet, Tennessee…
…At the news conference later with the governor, [Nashville Mayor John] Cooper said the city had responded to 400 calls for help overnight and treated 156 people at the hospital, WTVF reported. Almost 50 buildings collapsed, but many more are damaged…
…The Nashville Fire Department said it was responding to reports of about 50 collapsed structures in and around Nashville.
Some of the hardest-hit areas in the storm include West Nashville where there were reports of damage to planes as well as overturned tractor-trailers, according to ABC affiliate WKRN…
…A gas leak was reported in Germantown forcing an evacuation…
In addition, the tornadoes affected Wilson County, Putnam County, and Benton County. The Weather Channel has more information about that, and 108 photos of the damage the tornadoes caused.
How the Tornadoes Affected Voting
The Tennessee Republican Party had nothing to say about the tornadoes. The blog and press releases sections on its website had not been updated since 2019, with the exception of a press release posted on January 3, 2020, about Dr. Phil Roe’s retirement.
On March 3, 2020, the Tennessee Democratic Party posted information on its website titled: “Update and Specifics on Primary Voting in Wake of Middle Tennessee Tornado Tragedy”. From the information:
Last night was devastating for our Middle Tennessee communities, and the devastation will continue for hours and days to come. Our hearts and thoughts are with all those affected, responders as they survey the damage, and the entire community.
Many communities in Middle Tennessee have had polling location damage. Polls opened at 8AM and will stay open until 7PM. Some voters will need to change poling locations in Putnam, Davidson, and Wilson Counties. Please find voting locations changes below…
Later on March 3, 2020, the Tennessee Democratic Party posted press release titled: “Tennessee Democratic Party files lawsuit against Davidson County Election Commission and Secretary of State”. From the press release:
Following the destruction of the Middle Tennessee Tornado in the early morning hours of Super Tuesday, hundreds of voters’ ability to cast their vote across Davidson County was obstructed. More than 15 polling stations suffered electrical and structural damages and many polls were delayed from opening until 8:00 AM. Hundreds of voters arrived at 7:00 AM and were not able to cast their vote, and furthermore, many arriving throughout the day found their polling place closed.
The Tennessee Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit seeking legal injunction against the Davidson County Election Commission and Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, to extend the time polling locations are open by 3 hours. Extending the poll close time from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM would provide sufficient time for voters across the county to exercise their right and cast their vote. Failing to extend polling hours would cause irreparable harm to our democratic process.
Later on March 3, 2020, The Tennessee Democratic Party tweeted: “A victory for voters – Judge says all polling sites in Nashville can remain open until 8 pm CT & 5 “super sites” will remain open until 10 pm: Cleveland Community, Pearl Cohn, Donelson Presbyterian, Howard School & Davidson County Election Commission.”
On March 3, 2020, The Hill posted an article titled: “Democrats successfully sue to extend voting hours in areas affected by Tennessee tornadoes”. It was written by Justin Wise. From the article:
A Tennessee county judge has ruled that several polling sites in areas that were hit by deadly tornadoes in the state can remain open longer than previously permitted during Super Tuesday.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that five polling sites in areas surrounding Nashville would be allowed to remain open until 10 p.m. CT and that other places would be permitted to accept ballots until 8 p.m. CT.
The ruling came after the Tennessee Democratic Party and four Democratic presidential campaigns filed a lawsuit in Davidson County seeking a legal injunction to extend the time polling locations remained open, The Tennessean reported.
The candidates – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg – reportedly argued that voters’ constitutional rights would have been violated if they weren’t granted more time to vote after the tornadoes…
On February 12, 2020, WREG News Channel 3 posted an article titled: “Tennessee Rep. files resolution to declare CNN, Washington Post ‘fake news'” It was written by Mitchell Koch. From the article:
A Tennessee representative proposed legislation to designate CNN and The Washington Post as “fake news” in the state.
Resolution HJR 0079, proposed by Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) calls for the state “to recognize CNN and The Washington Post as fake news and condemn them for denigrating our citizens.”
The resolution recalls incidents from each news outlet in 2019 where a host or editor referred to supporters of President of Donald Trump as “belonging to a cult” or “cult-like”.
“To describe the entire Republican Party as a cult led by President Trump is problematic: If journalists are going to refer to the party as a cult and its supporters as cultists, they must define what “cult” means; otherwise, they are assuming that a cult is some obvious phenomenon and everyone knows what that word means,” reads a portion of the resolution.
It also calls for recognizing both outlets as “part of the media wing of the Democratic Party”.
“We condemn them for denigrating our citizens and implying that they are weak-minded followers instead of people exercising their rights that our veterans paid for with their blood,” another portion says.
The resolution currently does not have a co-sponsor. It was introduced in the House on Wednesday…
The full text of HJ 779 is here.
On February 12, 2020, The Guardian posted an article titled: “Tennessee Republican bids to classify CNN and Washington Post as ‘fake news’. It was written by Kenya Evelyn. From the article.
A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced an amendment to a resolution that would recognize CNN and the Washington Post as “fake news” that is “part of the media wing of the Democratic party.”
The amendment read: “We recognize that fake news outlets suggest ideas without directly making accusations so that they can claim innocence from their ivory towers.”
Republican state representative Micah Van Huss of Jonesboro introduced the measure Tuesday at the state’s capital. According to local station WREG, it amends a previous joint house resolution filed last month…
…Lawmakers behind the resolution also criticized the notion of “a spell Trump has cast on the Republican party” as Washington Post editor, Marc Fisher, suggested in an October editorial.
The resolution will now be debated within the state house’s subcommittee on sentencing and protections before a vote is scheduled…
…While the resolution currently has 13 co-sponsors, some fellow Republican lawmakers have called it “unnecessary” and questioned its purpose…
A quick internet search revealed that Tennessee has a long history of controversies that appear to be designed to cause voter suppression.
On October 25, 2018, The Daily Memphian posted an article titled: “Jenkins rules against election commission, orders immediate voter registration remedies”. It was written by Bill Dries. From the article:
Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins ruled Thursday in favor of the Memphis Branch NAACP and the Tennessee Black Voters Project in a lawsuit that will require the Shelby County Election Commission to give potential voters a chance to fix their voter registration applications so they can cast ballots on the Nov. 6 election day.
Jenkins ordered the election commission to keep in place a system it is using now during early voting for rectifying voter registration application problems through Election Day. He also ordered election officials to immediately notify potential voters whose applications are incomplete of problems with their applications, giving them a chance to rectify the problems, and to begin providing daily updates of its progress on the backlog of 4,000 to 6,000 potential voters whose forms remain unprocessed since the Oct. 9 deadline to register to vote.
The Memphis Branch NAACP and the Tennessee Black Voters Project lawsuit argued that voters should be notified of problems with their registration applications and given a chance to correct them and participate as voters.
Election commission attorney John Ryder said he will appeal the ruling immediately including seeking a stay on the ruling taking effect…
…The ruling is the second by Jenkins since July affecting the conduct of elections in Shelby County. In July, Jenkins ordered the election commission to add early voting sites and change the hours so that more sites were open from the outset of the early voting period in advance of the Aug. 2 election day.
On November 5, 2018, The Tennessean posted an article titled: “College students are running into problems voting absentee. Two lawmakers plan to address it.” It was written by Natalie Allison. From the article:
…Ben Stocksdale, who is taking a gap year to work for YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, Colorado, opened his mail from the Hamilton County Election Commission – what he assumed to be his absentee ballot – but found notice that his request to vote by mail had been denied.
Since the 18-year-old had never before voted in person, the rejection letter stated, he was ineligible to vote in Tennessee by absentee ballot.
It’s a problem that college-aged students moving away from home are facing in light of state law, which requires a voter to have previously cast a ballot in person or register in the presence of an election commission official – not merely online, by mail or at a registration drive – in order to request an absentee ballot.
“The result of the law is that it makes it really difficult for college students, ” said Lisa Quigley, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, who has made voting rights her area of expertise.
Despite the Secretary of State’s website providing information on requirements for absentee voting, new voters like Ben Stocksdale are often unaware of the requirement when they attempt to request an absentee ballot.
Tennessee passed its Voter Identification Act in 2011, requiring voters to show a photo ID at the time of voting, though it must be a Tennessee driver’s license or state government photo ID, military photo ID, state handgun carry permit with a photo or a U.S. passport..
…Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, has spent the last few years focusing on improving voter registration numbers in Tennessee through Project Register, a nonpartisan voter participation initiative started by him and Cooper.
He believes voters should have to produce some form of photo identification, but also wants to improve Tennessee’s voting system “so that there is a minimal identification component without it being punitive or overly restrictive.”
Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, said “it’s critical that people establish that they are who they say they are to vote,” but that the current requirements are too restrictive….
…This year, Yarbro and Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, sponsored legislation to allow Tennesseans to vote by absentee ballot for any reason, to certify their identity on a form from the Secretary of State’s office submitted with the absentee ballot.
The bill failed in a subcommittee…
On September 12, 2019, The League of Women Voters of the US (LWVUS) posted an article titled: “Washington Post: Judge Blocks Tennessee law restricting voter registration drives”. It was originally published by The Washington Post. From the article:
A federal judge has blocked a Tennessee law that sought to restrict paid voter registration drives, ruling it an “onerous and intrusive regulatory structure” that would have inhibited free speech and intimidated drive organizers with the threat of financial penalties.
U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger ruled Thursday that state officials offered “simply no basis” for the new legislation, which was signed into law in May and scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1. The law would have imposed penalties of up to $10,000 for turning in inaccurate or incomplete forms, which its backers said was necessary in response to a flood of error-riddled and fraudulent forms last year.
Trauger said it was “unrefuted” that the law would have required registration drives to curtail and perhaps even discontinue their activities, harming Tennesseans “who merely wish to exercise their core constitutional rights of participating in the political process by encouraging voter registration.”..
…Trauger’s preliminary injunction will remain in place as litigation on the case continues; its timing means that even if the law is ultimately upheld it is not likely to apply to upcoming local elections or the state’s presidential primary next March…
…The case’s plaintiffs celebrated the decision as a victory for voting rights. Marian Ott, president of the Tennessee chapter of the League of Women Voters, said the law was so vague that it was unclear whether it would apply to her organization, which sometimes receives grants to run registration drives in targeted communities…
…The law arose after the Tennessee Black Voter Project led an unprecedented effort in 2018 to register new voters, particularly African Americans, in a state with one of the lowest registration rates in the country…
…The new law would have imposed penalties of up to $2,000 for each county where an organization with paid workers submitted more than 100 deficient forms. The fine would have grown much steeper – up to $10,000 per county – where the number of deficient forms exceeded 500…
A copy of the lawsuit, and U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger’s decision, here.
On March 2, 2020, Courthouse News Service posted an article titled: “States Make It Hard for College Students to Vote”. From the article:
Vanderbilt University student Will Newell wishes it was easier for college students like him to vote in Tennessee, one of 14 stats holding a presidential primary on Super Tuesday.
The campus has no locations for early voting, so students must visit an off-campus polling place to cast a ballot on Election Day. Newell drives but worries that many students who don’t have their own transportation won’t make it to a precinct. He said some campus groups offer rides to students, but the university itself does not provide a shuttle.
He supports a bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature that would require early voting locations at large colleges and universities in the state.
That’s not the only restriction working against college students in the state. Tennessee, where overall voter turnout is low, is among several states that does not allow a college student ID to be used to vote. But it does allow a handgun license…
…As Democratic candidates seek a boost from young voters in 2020, their impact at the polls could be blunted in a number of states that make voting more difficult for college students. Those include laws related to voter IDs, residency requirements and on-campus polling stations. Critics say many of those laws are designed to dampen turnout among voters who typically lean Democratic…
…Texas and Tennessee are among seven states where college identification cards are not allowed at polling places, with laws enacted by Republican-controlled legislatures between 2008 and 2018. The others are Arizona, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina – all are states won by Trump in 2016…
…In Tennessee, Democratic state Rep. London Lamar has proposed a law that would require county election commissions to place early voting locations at colleges or universities with at least 8,000 students.
In Lamar’s hometown of Memphis, Landon Shelby has to vote off-campus. Shelby, a University of Memphis junior and a Republican, said he would like to see campus polling places so students don’t have to drive or hitch a ride to a precinct…
…The chances of that happening any time soon aren’t great. Lamar’s early voting legislation will face an uphill fight in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, especially in an election year.
But the bill has a Republican co-sponsor, and Lamar hopes her Republican colleagues agree that it’s important to simplify the voting process for college students…
2020 Tennessee Democratic Presidential Preference Primary
On March 3, 2020, NBC News tweeted: “BREAKING: Joe Biden wins Tennessee Democratic Primary, NBC News projects.” The tweet included a link to the NBC website. It also had a photo of Joe Biden with the word Tennessee over his head and a yellow box with a checkmark in it next to the photo.
The Tennessee Secretary of State website posted Unofficial Election Results for the 2020 Democratic Primary:
- Joseph R. Biden: 215,229 votes – 41.74%
- Bernie Sanders: 128,922 votes – 25.00%
- Michael R. Bloomberg: 79,746 votes – 15.47%
- Elizabeth Warren: 53,626 votes – 10.40%
- Pete Buttigeig: 17,078 votes – 3.31%
- Amy Klobuchar: 10,667 votes – 2.07%
- Tulsi Gabbard: 2,276 votes – 0.44%
- Tom Steyer: 1,932 votes – 0.32%
- Michael Bennet: 1,648 votes – 0.23%
- Uncommitted: 1,190 votes – 0.23%
- Andrew Yang: 1,092 votes – 0.21%
- Cory Booker: 953 votes – 0.18%
- Marianne Williamson: 497 votes – 0.10%
- John K. Delaney: 379 votes – 0.07%
- Julián Castro: 239 votes – 0.05%
- Deval Patrick: 181 votes – 0.04%
The Guardian posted results of the Tennessee 2020 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, with 100% of precincts reporting. Their data comes from The Associated Press. The Guardian reported that Tennessee has 64 pledged delegates.
- Joe Biden: 215,005 votes – 41.71%
- Bernie Sanders: 128,688 votes – 24.97%
- Michael Bloomberg: 79,638 votes – 15.45%
- Elizabeth Warren: 53,555 votes – 10.39%
- Pete Buttigieg: 17,051 votes – 3.31%
- Amy Klobuchar: 10,645 votes – 2.07%
- Tulsi Gabbard: 2,292 votes – 0.44%
- Tom Steyer: 1,980 votes – 0.38%
- Michael Bennet: 1,882 votes – 0.37%
- Uncommitted: 1,182 votes – 0.23%
- Andrew Yang: 1,097 votes – 0.21%
- Cory Booker: 978 votes – 0.19%
- Marianne Williamson: 498 votes – 0.10%
- John Delaney: 379 votes – 0.07%
- Deval Patrick: 326 votes – 0.06%
- Julian Castro: 239 votes – 0.05%
The Tennessee Secretary of State website posted Unofficial Election Results for the 2020 Republican Primary:
- Donald J. Trump: 384,116 votes – 96.47%
- Uncommitted: 5,946 votes – 1.48%
- Joe Walsh: 4,172 votes – 1.05%
- Bill Weld: 3,921 votes: 0.97%
The Guardian posted results of the Tennessee 2020 Republican Presidential Preference Primary, with 100% of precincts reporting. Their data comes from The Associated Press. The Guardian reported that Tennessee has 64 pledged delegates.
- Donald Trump: 380,276 votes – 96.52%
- Uncommitted: 5,665 votes – 1.44%
- Joe Walsh: 4,135 votes – 1.05%
- Bill Weld: 3,893 votes – 0.99%
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