Are you sick of the election? Are you thinking about staying home on Election Day? DON’T. Here’s why.
- Early voting in Tennessee begins Oct. 14 and ends Oct. 29.
- Voting early offers the most sites and times to vote.
- The Knox County Election Commission administrator urges voters to make a plan and expect lines.
Early voting begins this week, and more people than ever are expected to cast their ballots before Election Day.
Early voting gives everyone opportunities to find a time and place to vote that fits their schedule.
Knox County Election Commission administrator Chris Davis urges voters to plan ahead and vote early because of this year’s expected turnout and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re voting early, here’s everything you need to know to stay safe, save time and ensure your vote is counted.
When is early voting?
Early voting in Tennessee begins Oct. 14 and ends Oct. 29. Hours vary by day and location. If a voter misses early voting and does not vote by mail, they must vote at his or her designated polling location on Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
More: Want to vote by mail? You need to start now.
Where to early vote in Knox County
There are 11 early voting locations in Knox County this year. Voters can choose any of the polling places to cast their ballots.
The Tennessee voter lookup tool, available at tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup, generates a list of early voting locations and hours as well as a voter’s Election Day polling place. Early voting locations and schedules also can be accessed at knoxcounty.org/election.
Early voting locations in Knox County:
- Carter Senior Center – 9040 Asheville Highway
- City-County Building, Small Assembly Room – 400 Main St.
- Downtown West – 1645 Downtown W. Blvd., Unit 40
- Farragut Town Hall – 11408 Municipal Center Drive
- Halls Recreation Center – 6933 Recreation Lane
- Howard H. Baker Jr. Center (University of Tennessee campus) – 1640 Cumberland Ave. *NOTE: This location is only open for early voting Oct. 26-29.
- Karns Senior Center – 8042 Oak Ridge Highway
- Knoxville Expo Center – 5441 Clinton Highway
- Love Kitchen – 2418 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.
- Meridian Baptist Church – 6513 Chapman Highway
- New Harvest Park – 4775 New Harvest Lane
Early voting hours
Hours vary depending on the day and place you vote. The City-County Building, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center, Karns Senior Center and Meridian Baptist Church have different schedules than the other locations on the list.
Early voting hours for most polling places:
- Oct. 14-24 polls are open Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Oct. 26-29 voting hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Early voting hour exceptions:
- City-County Building will be open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. during the weeks of early voting except the following: Oct. 17 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 24 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Oct. 26-29 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Howard H. Baker Jr. Center will only be open the final week of early voting (Oct. 26-29) 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Karns Senior Center will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday and closed on Saturdays.
- Meridian Baptist Church will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays (Oct. 14, 21 and 28).
Early voting tips
Davis told Knox News that voters should avoid crowds on Election Day if possible. If voters have questions about voting, election officials can help more easily during early voting when the phones aren’t crammed by Election Day voters, too.
“A lot of Election Day voters only vote once every four or eight years, so they often don’t know where to go,” Davis said. “Our phone lines are flooded on Election Day, so voters have a better chance of getting help during early voting.”
Choosing a time when it’s less busy is important during early voting. Davis suggests voting midday, midweek or on a Saturday. It could take some time to get through the line, but voters should be patient so officials can get the right count. If a line is too long, try another nearby polling place.
“I anticipate long lines, and we’re going to try to get people through quickly,” Davis said. “Accuracy is the most important thing for us, though.”
One of the best things voters can do to prepare for voting is to get familiar with their ballots. Pausing at the polls holds up lines, causing longer wait times. Voters should review their ballots before voting so they can make informed choices quickly. Davis said voters need to do their research ahead of time because officials can not answer questions about the ballot at polls.
A sample ballot is available at knoxcounty.org/election. Voters can also search for their his or her ballot online to learn more about the candidates and questions they’ll be asked when voting.
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