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Tennessee to allow first-time voters to vote by mail for November presidential election

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The Tennessee state law requiring first-time voters to vote in person before they are eligible to vote by mail no longer applies for the upcoming presidential election.

As of September 9th, The US District Court ruled first-time voters are not required to vote in-person if they meet a legal reason to vote by-mail.

Many first time voters are college students. NewsChannel 9 went to UTC’s campus and asked young voters how they felt about the adjustment.

We spoke with UTC’s College Republicans former president, senior Andrew Guffee.

“If you are standing in line at the grocery store, you can stand in line at the polling center,” Guffee said.

Guffee said he hopes young, first time voters who aren’t at high risk of contracting COVID-19 will still go to the polls in person.

It’s typical for college students to vote absentee, especially those from out of state.

Grad student Mary Northcut is from Huntsville, Alabama. She voted in the 2016 election. Her absentee ballot is in the mail, and is glad her first-time voting Tennessean peers have the same option.

“I don’t think people should be penalized for having just turned 18 and maybe never voted in an election before,” Northcut said. “Considering the current state of affairs it’s definitely a safer bet, and it’s really important to let as many people vote as possible.”

Some students said voting in person was important to them because of the gravity they feel this election holds.

“My personal opinion this is the most important election of our lives,” Criminal Justice major Artur Shaylitsa said.

Like Guffee, he plans to be at the polls in person come November 3rd.

“It’s not a perfect system, maybe they’ve perfected it now, you know I have faith that they have, but just as a personal preference I’d rather go in and personally do it,” he said.

UTC sent out an email to students Tuesday morning with information on deadlines and locations for voting in the November election. Read it here.

We contacted the Hamilton County Election Commission to find out what first-time Tennessee voters who were initially rejected should do now if they still want an absentee ballot.

They told us no more applications have been rejected for that reason and are currently waiting on more guidance from the state.

We have also reached out to Secretary of State Tre Hargett for more information.

Below is a list of important dates pertaining to the November 2020 presidential election.

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, October 5th, 2020
  • Early Voting: Wednesday, October 14 - Thursday, October 29th, 2020
  • Absentee Ballot Request Deadline: Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
  • Election Day: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

Depend on NewsChannel 9 to keep you on top of 2020 election coverage.

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