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Here's what you need to know about voting in Tennessee, why it matters

Presidential elections get a lot of attention, but local races matter just as much, if not more.

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — In just a few weeks, Tennessee voters will cast ballots for the Democratic and Republican primaries in May.

Typically, presidential elections get a lot of attention, but local elections matter just as much, if not more.  

“It is huge,” said Debby Gould, with the Tennessee League of Women Voters. “It’s everyone who makes a decision that really impacts you and your daily life.”

This May, more than two dozen spots are up for grabs in Shelby County. 

Voters will select Democratic or Republican nominees for:

Republican Primary                                                                                   

  • District Attorney                                                                                        
  • Shelby County Mayor                                                                                 
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 1                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 2                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 3                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 4                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 5                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 6                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 7                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 8                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 9                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 10                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 11                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 12                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 13                                               
  • Assessor of Property                                                                                   
  • County Trustee                                                                                           
  • Circuit Court Clerk                                                                                       
  • Criminal Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • Juvenile Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • Probate Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • County Clerk                                                                                                 
  • Register of Deeds

Take a look the sample ballot here. 

Democratic Primary 

  • District Attorney                                                                                        
  • Shelby County Mayor                                                                                 
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 1                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 2                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 3                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 4                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 5                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 6                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 7                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 8                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 9                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 10                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 11                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 12                                               
  • Shelby County Commissioner District 13                                               
  • Assessor of Property                                                                                   
  • County Trustee 
  • Sheriff                                                                                          
  • Circuit Court Clerk                                                                                       
  • Criminal Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • Juvenile Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • Probate Court Clerk                                                                                    
  • County Clerk                                                                                                 
  • Register of Deeds

Take a look at the sample ballot here. 

The people voters elect could make decisions about big issues, like adding more grocery stores in your neighborhood, whether or not to raise taxes, or finding more ways to fight crime.

According to Gould, who’s better to pick these leaders than you.

“You understand your communities,” said Gould. “You understand its needs. You understand its potential, and you know what kind of leaders you'd like to see that could make a difference in your lives and the lives of all your neighbors.”

How to register to vote

In order to vote, you must be registered. You can register to vote online here or mail you a paper application to:

  • Shelby County Election Commission
  • 980 Nixon Drive
  • Memphis, TN 38134

Here’s a link to the paper application.

According to the Shelby County Election Commission website, you can also hand deliver your application to these locations:

  • 980 Nixon Dr., Memphis, TN 38134
  • 157 Poplar Ave., Suite 137, Memphis, TN 38103

Here’s a look at the requirements

To register to vote in Shelby County:

  • You must be a US citizen, AND
  • You must be at least 18 years old on or before the next election, AND
  • You must be a resident of Shelby County, AND
  • You must NOT have been convicted of a felony, or if you have, your voting rights must have been restored.

Key Dates to Remember 

Monday, April 4 - Last day to register to vote in May Primaries

Wednesday, April 13 - First day of Early Voting

Tuesday, April 26 - Last day to request an absentee ballot

Thursday, April 28 - Last day of early voting

Tuesday, May 3 - Election Day