The last two weeks have been exciting times for our democracy. With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions coming to an end, it’s clear that both sides are highly invested in this November’s 2020 General Election. While there is little that both parties agree on, there is one thing that binds them together – the importance of voting. As a citizen, casting your ballot is both a right and a responsibility, and the results of voting can echo far into the future. When you vote, you’re not just voting for the next four years. Legislation affects the further generations and it’s the children, nieces, and nephews that you are voting for as well. Voting is very, very important.
Earlier this month, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. What some might not know is that Tennessee played a vital role in its 1920 passage by being the last of the 36 states necessary to ratify the amendment. Tennessee helped bring about a momentous, inclusive change to our voting system.
Participating in this sacred civic duty safely is something that might have been taken for granted in the past. However, COVID-19 has spurred an awareness of how social behavior can be a risk. While COVID-19 remains a big concern, I hope you vote and make a plan to do so safely. Thankfully, there are options for those who wish to remain socially distant and still practice their sacred right of voting.
One way that you can plan to vote is by early voting. Instead of many people showing up on election day to cast their ballots, early voting increases the window of time that votes can be cast, which helps spread the number of people voting over many dates, which also allows individuals to spread out and distance themselves. For Tennessee voters the early voting period runs from October 14 - October 29, and October 12 - 30 for Georgia, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live so be sure to check with your county’s election commission.
Another way is voting by mail. With COVID-19 appearing this year, this option has become increasingly popular in a number of states around the country. In Tennessee, an absentee ballot application can be requested up to 90 days before the election but no later than seven days before the election; Georgia voters can request an absentee ballot application as many as 180 days before the election but no later than four days before the election. There might be other stipulations to voting by mail in your specific area, so it is important for anyone interested in utilizing this method to check with their local county’s election commission to be aware of any needed documentation and pertinent dates.
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