Feb 19 2008

A reader emailed to ask how his daughter who is attending school in Tennessee should go about registering to vote here.

As long as a student has a Tennessee address all he or she needs to do is register with the election commission in the county of his/her residence. Students or anyone else must register at least 30 days before the election in which they plan to vote.

More info after the jump...

I recommend students register in person at the election commission office so election officals can answer any questions and issue a voter registration card. This will help avoid confusion and delays on election day. Students might want to take proof of residency such as a student ID, utility bill, etc. just in case, although I don't believe it's reqired as long as the voter registration affadavit is signed.

In Tennessee, students or anyone else can register by mail, but they will be required to vote in person the first time (i.e. not by absentee/mail-in) and must have a current voter registration card, a photo ID, or two other acceptable forms of ID for first time voters who registered by mail.

Note that registering to vote in Tennessee invalidates voter registration in any other state. If the student is planning to go home for the summer and does not know what their address will be in the fall, they can register now at their current address and then file a change of address form as soon they know their new address in the fall.

Here's the Tennessee Voter Registration Application form that is valid for any county in the state:

Here is a list of county election commission offices with address, contact info, hours, and phone numbers. Students should contact their local election commission office if they have any questions.

Finally, there have been reports of unscrupulous political operatives attempting to disrupt student voter registration drives by spreading false information. Students should not let anyone tell them it is illegal to register in the state where they attend school, or that they must be a permanent resident, or that they must have lived in the state for a certain period of time before they can vote. The only requirement is residence in the county where they are registering to vote and registration 30 days before an election.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Check with the local election commission or state election officals for specifics.

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