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Expect big changes when you vote in the August election

From mail-in voting, to changes at the polls, things will be different due to COVID-19.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — What a mess.

There are days you’d like to kick the coronavirus right in the keister.

Not only is it killing people, but it’s putting fear in others. It is a very real fear.

Everything is changing, including how we vote. For example, Bellevue Baptist Church has been an early voting location in Shelby County for years. When 26 polling sites open on July 16th, there will not be poll at Bellevue Baptist Church.

Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says, “We’ve used Bellevue Baptist Church on Appling Road for years as an early voting location. But they just could not provide us with a room large enough to do social distancing. I didn’t think any voter would want to stand outside in line during August. So we’ve moved that to Briarwood Church on Germantown Parkway.”

If you plan on going to the polls, either early voting or on Election Day August 6th, you will see changes.

“You will see a whole lot of social distancing,” Phillips says. “Our poll workers have masks, gloves, and face shields. Each voter will get a pen to use. They can take it home with them, nobody else touches it.”

The biggest change concerns voting by mail. A judicial ruling says people in Tennessee can vote absentee if they are afraid of catching COVID-19.

Phillips says her office is getting a lot of requests for ballots.

“Normally with our old system,” she says, “... we would print ballots on demand. Unfortunately, the quantity of ballots we’re going to be mailing out for this location is really too great for us to do that. So we are having them printed. As soon as we get them, we will be mailing them out.”

You can apply for the ballots by getting in touch with your local elected officials. They MUST be turned in by July 30th.

Now listen, this is important. According to Elections Administrator Linda Phillips, when it comes to those absentee ballots, “They must be mailed. You can’t drop them off, you can’t email them, you can’t fax them. Security requires they be mailed through the US Mail. Everybody should allow enough time for that to happen.”

The Election Commission is considered an essential service, so we are able to issue and accept petitions at both locations. However, we urge citizens who do not need to file petitions to stay home and use our online services at GoVoteTN.com.

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