Military personnel, their family members and overseas voters (UOCAVA voters) may receive their absentee ballot via e-mail or by-mail upon request. UOCAVA voters may track when the ballot was received by their local county election commission office. The voted ballot must be received by the local county election commission office by the close of polls on election day to be counted.
If you are not in the military, a family member of the military, or an overseas citizen, these instructions do not apply to you and you may not use the Form 76. Please refer to Absentee Voting.
1. Who may apply to vote absentee under T.C.A. § 2-6-502?
To vote pursuant to the above statute, an individual must fall into one of the following categories.
MILITARY PERSONNEL: Persons who are United States citizens, residents of Tennessee and members of the Uniformed Services (i.e., armed forces personnel), and their family members.
"Armed forces personnel" is defined in T.C.A. § 2-1-104(1) as members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Environmental Science Service Administration, Public Health Service of the United State's or members of the Merchant Marine of the United States, and their spouses and dependents.
CIVILIANS OUTSIDE U.S.: Persons who are United States citizens, residents of Tennessee, and who are currently residing overseas.
OVERSEAS CITIZEN: A United States citizen who resides outside the U.S. and, but for living outside the U.S., would be qualified to vote in Tennessee.
PERSONS BORN OVERSEAS: A person who has never lived in the U.S. but has a parent who is eligible to vote in Tennessee may vote in Tennessee in the same voting residence claimed by the parent.
2. Must I already be a registered voter to vote in Tennessee pursuant to this provision?
No. If you meet the qualifications to register to vote in Tennessee but have not registered prior to requesting an absentee ballot and you fall into one of the above categories, your application for absentee ballot will be treated as an application for temporary registration.
Normally, an individual who registers to vote by mail must appear in person in the first election the person votes in after such registration becomes effective. This provision is waived in the case of military personnel, their family members, or overseas citizens. However, since this is only a temporary registration, once you are no longer eligible to vote under this provision of the law, you must complete a voter registration form and submit the form to your local county election commission prior to voting in any subsequent election.
If you are a registered voter prior to requesting an absentee ballot under this provision, the above information does not apply to you.
3. When may a registered voter or individual who meets the above requirements apply to vote by absentee ballot?
Applications may be received no earlier than January 1 of the year in which the election is to be held unless the election is to be held less than ninety (90) days after January 1 of the calendar year. In that case, the application may be received no earlier than ninety (90) days before the election and no later than seven (7) days before the election.
4. What is the process for requesting an absentee ballot?
An individual who meets the above requirements may request an absentee ballot by completing a Federal Post Card application, also known as a “Form 76 or FPCA” (herein Form 76). An overview of the process may be found at FVAP.gov.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program provides an online version of the Form 76 that a voter may complete and send to the local county election commission. Once you have provided all the information needed to obtain a ballot, print the form and sign the application.
5. How do I submit the request or application to my local county commission?
The form may be mailed, faxed or emailed with an attached document that includes a scanned signature to the local county election commission. A form may be faxed only if the election commission office has a fax machine physically located in its office.
6. To be counted, when must the voted ballot be received by the county election commission?
The voted ballot must be received by mail by the close of the polls on election day. If the ballot is rejected, the registered voter will be notified that the ballot was rejected and why the ballot was rejected.
7. Must I submit an application for each election in the upcoming year?
No. The voter will receive absentee ballots for all regularly scheduled elections for the calendar year in which the request is submitted.
Note that it is the voter’s responsibility to keep the local county election office informed of any changes of address. The ballots will be mailed or e-mailed, depending on the choice of the voter, to the address that is originally submitted to the local county election office until further notice from the voter.
8. What if I do not receive or ruin my ballot and can no longer use it?
If a voter notifies the election commission that he or she has “spoiled” a ballot or has not received the ballot, the election commission shall note on the records that subsequent supplies have been sent and supply the voter with subsequent voting supplies.
After timely requesting an official absentee ballot, Armed Forces personnel and overseas voters who feel that there may not be a sufficient amount of time to receive and then return the voted ballot may also use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).
Instructions for completing an FWAB, the FWAB ballot and envelopes may be found at FVAP.gov.
Note: If both ballots are received prior to the close of the polls on election day, the county election commission will count the official ballot it provided to the voter.
9. What if I do not provide all of the information required on the by-mail ballot application?
The county election commission will reject the application and return the application to the voter immediately by mail to be completed and returned again.
10. How may I receive my absentee ballot?
Tennessee allows you to receive an absentee ballot by mail or e-mail. Please indicate how you would like to receive your absentee ballot on your request. If you indicate e-mail, provide your e-mail address (on the Form 76 your e-mail address should be provided in Block 2) with the request. If you do not indicate how you want your absentee ballot sent, the absentee ballot will be mailed. Tennessee does not allow you to receive your absentee ballot by fax.
11. May I track my absentee ballot?
Yes. Go to Tennessee’s voter lookup page on the Division of Elections homepage. Enter your information and you will be able to track when the ballot was received by the local county election commission office. If you need assistance, contact your local county election commission office.