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Voter Registration Guide

One of the goals of the Hamilton County Election Commission is to encourage every eligible citizen to register to vote.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the voter registration procedures.

By Phone: (423) 493-5100
By Fax: (423) 493-5101
By Email:
Vote@hamiltontn.gov

Register or Change Address  

Q: VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS

A: Voter Registration Applications are documents issued by the State of Tennessee and may be used in any county within Tennessee. The Voter Registration Application can be used to:

  • Apply to register to vote,Report a change of address for a voter,
  • Report a name change,
  • Report a change in other information, or
  • Cancel a voter’s registration in another county or state To be Eligible to Register to Vote in Hamilton County, Tennessee all of the following qualifications must be met:
  • You must be a United States citizen,
  • You must be a legal resident of Hamilton County when submitting a voter registration application,
  • You must be 18 years of age or older by the date of the next election,
  • You must not have been convicted of a felony or, if you have such a conviction, have your voting rights restored as required by state law, and *You must submit a properly completed voter registration application at least 30 days before an upcoming election. These qualifications are the same in each county in Tennessee. To register to vote in Hamilton County, one must be a resident of Hamilton County.

Q: REGISTRATION DEADLINE

A:Voter Registration Deadlines are specific under the law. If the completed forms are hand-delivered (walked in to the office), they must be delivered by the close of business on the 30th day before any upcoming election. A voter registration deadline could be for a federal, state, county or city election. This deadline is state law.

If the forms are mailed – either by the person attempting to register or the person organizing the voter registration drive – the envelope must be postmarked no later than the 30th day before any upcoming election. A form with a postmark of 29 days or less before Election Day would be considered untimely and the individual would not be eligible to participate in the upcoming election.

Q: PROCESSING VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS

A: The Hamilton County Election Commission office personnel stamp all documents with the time and date on which they are received. Voter Registration Applications are categorized as “timely” or “untimely” at the time of receipt based on upcoming election deadlines. If a Mail-In Voter Registration Application is untimely, the voter will be notified by mail that their registration was received after the deadline and he/she will not be eligible to vote in the upcoming election. Applications marked untimely for an election will be processed as soon as the election is over. The voter will then be eligible for the next election.

Voter registrations timely filed are processed in the order in which they are received. An applicant’s eligibility to register is determined by the Hamilton County Election Commission office personnel based on state law. (See requirements listed above.) Registrations that have a deficiency, such as a missing or incomplete social security number, a missing signature, etc, will be rejected and the voter notified in writing. Occasionally, registration forms are received in Hamilton County belonging to a neighboring county. Those forms will be forwarded to the appropriate County Election office.

Q: REGISTERING BY MAIL BEFORE FIRST TIME VOTING

A: Individuals who register by mail must vote in person the first time they appear to vote. The definition of “in person” would be to appear personally at their election day polling place or an early voting location with proper identification.

What IDs are acceptable?
Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired:

  • Tennessee drivers 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 any state government
  • United States Military photo ID
  • State-issued handgun carry permit with your photo

What IDs are not acceptable?

  • College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal or a state government are NOT acceptable.

Who is exempt?

  • Voters who vote absentee by mail (view requirements here)
  • Voters who are residents of a licensed nursing home or assisted living center and who vote at the facility • Voters who are hospitalized
  • Voters with a religious objection to being photographed
  • Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee

What if I registered by mail and am voting in my first election?

Federal law requires first time voters who register by mail to present one of the following:

  • A current photo identification with voter’s name and photo OR
  • If the photo identification is expired, the voter must also present one of the following: a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.

Q: LOCATION OF MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS

A: The Hamilton County Election Office has placed mail-in application forms at each U.S. Post Office in our county. Additionally, forms can be found at any City Hall or Public Library. The Department of Safety, Department of Human Services, Military Recruiting Offices, Hamilton County Health Department and the County Clerk’s Office also have forms available during normal business hours.

Register or change your address with our completely online system by CLICKING HERE. You must register at least 30 days before any upcoming election day.

Q: PURGING REGISTRATIONS

A: Many citizens think voter registration is permanent – once registered, always registered. This is not true. Previously, Tennessee used the term “permanent” on election documents which added to this incorrect belief. The word “permanent” no longer appears on voter registration cards.


List Maintenance Program

A.  County Election Commission Must Adopt a Written Policy

1.      Must describe the details of the list maintenance program;

2.      Must describe the conditions and situations in which the confirmation notices and the verification cards must be mailed;

3.      Must specify the timing in which activities in the program must occur.

B.  Confirmation Notice - Required Mailer

1.      Forwardable mailer (Follows the voter who has filed a change of address with the post office)

2.      Includes a pre-paid response card 

3.      Does not include the voter’s SSN

4.      Mailed to Address on Voter Registration Record

5.      Any confirmation notice which states that the notice is being sent to the voter due to inactivity by the voter for a period of two consecutive general elections must be revised.  The notice must be re-written to reflect that the confirmation notice is being sent because the election commission has received information indicating that the voter’s current residential address is different from the residential address listed on the voter registration record.

6.      Reasons to Send the Confirmation Notice – Objective Evidence

a.      Returned Mail which has been sent by the County Election Commission Office (Attach any returned mail to the voter registration record as proof of its return)

b.      Information received through the National Change of Address (NCOA) Program

c.      Information received from the Coordinator of Elections as a result of a comparison of voter registration addresses with the residential addresses of record with the Department of Safety. 

7.      Consequences to Sending the Confirmation Notice

a.      Immediately Makes the Voter INACTIVE

b.      Can still sign nominating petitions

c.      Can still sign petitions for referendums

d.      Can still vote, but must vote through the Fail Safe process

e.      Shall not be counted in the numbers of registered voters for the county

f.       If there is not any activity over a period of two (2) consecutive regular November elections from the date the voter is made inactive, the inactive voter is purged / removed

8.      Activity which Makes the Inactive Voter Active

a.      Response to the Confirmation Notice

b.      Change of Address

c.      Voting

d.      Request for Replacement Card

e.      Duplicate Voter Registration Application

f.       Signing a Petition, using the Same Address of Registration (Keep a copy of the signature page for your records)

C.  Verification Card/Letter (Non-Forwardable Mailer) – Useable, but not required

1.      Reasons for Sending the Verification Card/Letter – Non-objective Evidence

a.      Notification from individuals other than the voter, for example, parents, former spouses, candidates, neighbors who report that the voter has moved

b.      Different Address Listed on a Petition (Keep a copy of the signature page for your records)

2.      Consequences to Sending the Verification Card

a.      Does NOT change the status of the voter, and the voter remains Active

b.      Can still sign nominating petitions

c.      Can still sign petitions for referendums

d.      Can vote in elections like any other voter

D.  Removing Ineligible Voters

1.      Seven (7) Legal Reasons to Remove Voters

a.      Request of voter;

b.        Change of name for more than ninety (90) days for any reason, except by marriage or divorce;

c.      Death of voter;

d.      Felony Conviction;

e.        Move outside the county of registration or Registered in another jurisdiction;

f.         The voter fails to respond to the confirmation notice, does not appear to vote, and does not update the voter registration between the time the notice is sent and the second regular November election held after the notice was sent;

g.        Not a U.S. citizen.

1.    If notified by the coordinator of elections, statutory notice requirements must be provided before removing the voter.

2.    If notified by another government, agency (such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), purge the voter and notify the coordinator of elections. 

2.      Sources of Information to Remove a Voter

a.        Voting History of the Inactive Voter

b.        State Reports

1)      Cancellations

2)      Deceased Report (State and National)

3)      Felon Report

c.        Notice of Felony from Clerks

d.        Cancellation from another State

e.        Letter from Voter

f.         Obituary from newspaper of general circulation or funeral home website

g.      Non-citizen report


E.  Deadline to Complete Sending Confirmation Notices and Purges

1.      Any mass mailing of confirmation notices must be completed no later than ninety (90) days before any federal primary or general election. 

2.      Any purges due to inactivity must be completed no later than ninety (90) days before any federal primary or general election. 

F.   Two (2) Year Record Retention Required

1.      Names of voters to whom a confirmation notice was sent and information regarding whether the person responded (Kept from the date the notice was sent)

2.      Purged voter registration records (Kept from the date of the purge)

3.      Keep record from NCOA with the voter registration and purged record for applicable time frame

4.      State Reports