Early voting for the 2020 presidential election began statewide yesterday in Tennessee and will conclude on Oct. 29, three days before Election Day. This year, it may be more crucial than ever for voters to head to the polls early in order to avoid long lines on Election Day in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knox County has 11 early voting locations, which can be found on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website. Hours and dates for each location vary, with several locations holding extended hours for the last several days of the early voting period. Voters registered in Knox County are eligible to vote at any polling location.
At the downtown voting site in the City-County Building, none other than Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon voted early yesterday, explaining that the process was smooth and safe.
“I want to vote early because I just want to make sure my vote counts and make sure that I get in there and get it done,” Kincannon said. “That’s what I always do, and I enjoy it.”
Another politician, U.S. Representative for Tennessee District 13 Gloria Johnson for, also cast her vote early yesterday.
Fellow early voters and Knox County residents Mike and Jennie Shaffern said the process was easy and quick.
“I wanted to make sure that I was able to vote. There’s no guarantees on Election Day,” Shaffern said.
Mike Shaffern also wanted to ensure that he was able to cast his ballot and says this year’s election is particularly important.
“There are just so many issues, between social issues and the virus and everything that’s going on in the world right now. … Everything feels like it’s coming to a head, and it’s really important to let your voices be heard right now in whatever way that you can,” Shaffern said.
Early voters must arrive with a form of government-issued ID. A sample ballot can be reviewed on the Knox County website.
Voters who cast their ballots on the actual Election Day are assigned to specific voting precincts, which can be found online, based on home addresses.
For those located near UT’s campus and students without cars, the Howard Baker Jr. Center on campus will be open for early voting Oct. 26 through Oct. 29, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This election season, voters have also turned to absentee and mail-in voting; nine million Americans have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
The last day to request an absentee ballot in Tennessee is Oct. 26, although the USPS recommends that voters send in requests as soon as possible to ensure that the state receives the ballots by the end of Election Day.