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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Absentee ballots to be sent out this week to Shelby County voters who requested one

A record number of absentee ballots are expected this election in Shelby County due to COVID-19.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hot off the press is 175,000 absentee and emergency ballots for Shelby County voters. The Shelby County Election Commissions plans to begin sending them out on Wednesday to those who requested one. 

So far, the election commission has received nearly 20,000 requests for absentee, or mail-in, ballots, which is more than double the requests received in 2016. 

The election commission said ballots will not be mailed out in the order in which the ballot requests were received.

To request an absentee ballot, you must fulfill one of the requirements such as being out of town on Election Day, if you are 60 years or older, or have an underlying health condition. 

Ginnie Davis is a dedicated voter who's first time voting absentee was in the recent primary election. She is over 60 and did not want to chance her health or others at the polls. 

"The process was easy," Davis said. "I did it online and I got the application and I mailed it back in, they sent me my ballot, and then I sent it off." 

While you can register to vote online, the election commission's administrator Linda Phillips said you must either email, fax, or mail back your absentee request to the election commission. 

"They can get the form online and then if they have a printer or a scanner, they can print it, fill it out and sign it," Phillips said.

Phillips said a real signature is needed on the request. If you have requested one or plan to, Phillips advised filling it out and sending it back quickly. 

"I would recommend when getting their ballots to send them back immediately because there have been some delays with the mail and if you send it back early and there’s a problem we can contact you and get it corrected," Phillips said.

Davis agreed that getting it in sooner is better. 

"Do the process with what it takes to fill it out, send it in," Davis said. "Your vote counts and it matters."

Davis knows the postal service has had delays recently, but she does not want that to deter people from requesting an absentee ballot if they need one. 

"Be patient because with everything going on with the mailing system you definitely have to be patient," Davis said. "Don’t give up. Just wait on them and hopefully you’ll get your ballot."

You can request an absentee ballot no later than seven days before the election on October 27. The election commission must receive it by mail by the close of the polls on Election Day for it to count.