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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.

Voter Registration Forms are also available by CLICKING HERE. Download the form and print it out on white paper. Complete the form in blue or black ink or with a typewriter. Mail the form to our address at least 30 days before any upcoming election day. Forms completed in pencil will be rejected.

Q: PURGED REGISTRATIONS versus PERMANENT 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.

According to TCA 2-2-106 if a voter has had no activity for two consecutive regular November elections the county election commission is required to send a forwardable confirmation notice to the last known good address. (We then place the voter on the inactive list.) If the voter fails to respond to the confirmation notice and continues to have no activity for the next two regular November elections than their registration is purged.

Voters in Tennessee are allowed eight years of no activity before purging their registration. A few examples of "activity" as seen by Tennessee law can be:

  • Voting
  • Moving and notifying the local election commission
  • Checking that you would like to register to vote on any State forms,
  • changing your name and notifying the local election commission,
  • Signing a petition for a ballot initiative in your County or signing a nominating petition for a candidate who is running in a local primary or general election.
  • Calling our office and requesting a new voter registration card

If you communicate with your local election commission, we will update your activity date which will kick the can down the road on when we could purge you.

It is natural to see a kind of ebb and flow to the number of registered voters because of the inactivation process. The upside to all of this is according to TCA 2-7-140 if an inactive voter attempts to vote at a polling place on election day or during the early voting period he or she will be allowed to do so as long as they fill out a form detailing their most up-to-date information. The local election commission will then reactivate their voting status and permit them to vote using the same method as any other voter at the polling place.

A voter must have had no activity for four consecutive November elections to be purged due to inactivity.

Other Legal Reasons to Purge a Voter:

•         Upon receipt of a request to purge the registration from the voter,

•         Upon the death of the voter,

•         Upon written confirmation that the voter has moved outside the county of registration or has registered to vote in another jurisdiction,

•         Upon learning that a voter has had a name change for ninety (90) days or more, except by marriage, and the voter has failed to notify the election office, or

•         Upon receiving official confirmation that the voter is convicted of an infamous crime as defined in T.C.A. 40-20-112.