Chapter 1
General Provisions

2-1-101. Short title.

This title may be cited as the “Election Code.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-101.

Cross-References. Municipal elections, title 6, ch. 53.

Supervision of elections by state guard prohibited, § 58-1-402.

Law Reviews.

Changing Focus and Exposing a Solution: Using Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to Defeat Tennessee's Voter Photo ID Law, (Emma Redden), 44 U. Mem. L. Rev. 229 (2013).

Ethical Requirements for Judicial Candidates (Joe G. Riley), 26 No. 3, Tenn. B.J. 12 (1990).

Rethinking the Right to Vote Under State Constitutions, 67 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 189 (2014).

Shelby County and the End of History, 44 U. Mem. L. Rev. 357 (2013).

The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College, 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).

The Realities of Electoral Reform, 68 Vand. L. Rev. 761  (2015).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Voting Squared: Quadratic Voting in Democratic Politics, 68 Vand. L. Rev. 441  (2015).

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality of requirements for ballot access by new political parties, OAG 99-121 (5/19/99).

The Tennessee Tribune qualifies as a “newspaper” and/or a “newspaper of general circulation” for purposes of publication of official notices, OAG 04-011 (2/03/04).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Compliance with Election Laws.

The general rule is that only a substantial compliance, rather than a strictly literal compliance, with the election laws is required, so that, absent proof of fraud, the court would not hold illegal either the ballots of persons who merely voted in the wrong city precinct or the ballots of women who had married since their prior registration and who had simply failed to report a change of name; but where there were more than five clearly illegal ballots cast in an election because of the improper and unauthorized late registration of voters who had not previously registered to vote in municipal elections, those were not minor or technical violations but rather violations of major and important statutory provisions governing the registration of voters, so that the election was held void and a new election ordered. Lanier v. Revell, 605 S.W.2d 821, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 500 (Tenn. 1980).

2. Administration.

Although fact that the chair of a county election commission was the campaign manager for the successful candidate for mayor was not a direct violation of the election laws, it created an appearance of impropriety which aroused suspicion and distrust of the administration of the election laws and was, at a minimum, ill-advised. Lanier v. Revell, 605 S.W.2d 821, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 500 (Tenn. 1980).

County election commission erred by refusing to place an ordinance on the ballot, as the commission's duties were ministerial and, thus, it did not have the authority to determine whether the proposed ordinance would have been constitutional had the measure passed. City of Memphis v. Shelby County Election Comm'n, 146 S.W.3d 531, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 802 (Tenn. 2004).

3. Judicial Review.

Trial court acted without jurisdiction in a case brought by a mayor by entering an injunction against an election commission precluding a recall election because the commission was entitled to make a final determination regarding the issues surrounding the recall ballot before judicial review; under T.C.A. § 27-9-101, judicial review was available as to final orders. The commission was preempted by the trial court's injunction from meeting and engaging in the statutorily prescribed ministerial duties required of it to make final decisions regarding the recall ballot. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2011 Tenn. App. LEXIS 602 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 3, 2011).

2-1-102. Purpose.

The purpose of this title is to regulate the conduct of all elections by the people so that:

  1. The freedom and purity of the ballot are secured;
  2. Voters are required to vote in the election precincts in which they reside, except as otherwise expressly permitted;
  3. Internal improvement is promoted by providing a comprehensive and uniform procedure for elections; and
  4. Maximum participation by all citizens in the electoral process is encouraged.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-102.

Cross-References. General assembly authorized to require voters to vote in the precinct where they reside, Tenn. Const., art. IV, § 1.

Law Reviews.

Constitutional Law — Suffrage and the State's Interest in Preventing Fraud — The Constitutionality of Tennessee's Photo Identification Requirement Under Strict Scrutiny, 81 Tenn. L. Rev. 929 (2014).

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Authority.

By necessary implication, a county election commission had the authority under Tennessee's election statutes to hold a quasi-judicial hearing to make a factual determination to resolve a voter's complaint challenging a judicial candidate's residency. McFarland v. Pemberton, 530 S.W.3d 76, 2017 Tenn. LEXIS 561 (Tenn. Sept. 20, 2017).

2-1-103. Scope of title.

All elections for public office, for candidacy for public office, and on questions submitted to the people shall be conducted under this title.

Acts 1972 ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-103.

Attorney General Opinions. Election officials are bound by law to use the title “county mayors” and not “county executives” on primary and general election ballots for that office after July 1, 2003, OAG 03-096 (8/13/03).

Although the Tennessee Constitution does not prohibit persons under the age of 18 from voting in municipal elections, current Tennessee law prohibits persons under the age of 18 from voting in municipal elections. A municipality’s home rule status has no effect on the application of the suffrage clause to municipal elections or on the ability of the legislature to establish a statewide age requirement for voters. Accordingly, under current law, a municipality may not allow any person under the age of 18 to vote in a municipal election, regardless of whether the municipality has adopted home rule. OAG 18-29, 2018 Tenn. AG LEXIS 28 (7/6/2018).

2-1-104. Title definitions.

  1. In this title, unless a different meaning is clearly intended:
    1. “Armed forces personnel” means members of the army, navy, air force, marine corps, coast guard, environmental science services administration, and public health service of the United States or members of the merchant marine of the United States, and their spouses and dependents;
    2. “Ballot” means either a piece of paper or the labeled face of a voting machine prepared by appropriate election officials for voters to use to cast their votes;
    3. “Ballot box” means a container in which paper ballots are to be placed after being marked by voters;
    4. “Ballot label” means a piece of paper, cardboard or other material which is placed in the ballot frames of a voting machine to make a ballot;
    5. “Computerized county” means a county which utilizes a computerized voter registration system which has been approved by the coordinator of elections;
    6. “County executive committee” means a political party's authoritative county body which is constituted either under the law or under the rules of the political party;
    7. “Election” means a general election for which membership in a political party in order to participate therein is not required;
    8. “Election officials” means the officers of elections, judges, voting machine operators, precinct and assistant precinct registrars, and inspectors appointed under this title;
    9. “Federal election” means an election held to:
      1. Nominate a political party's candidate for congress or its candidates for elector for president and vice president;
      2. Determine the presidential preference of a political party's members; or
      3. Choose a member of congress or electors for president and vice president;
    10. “Mail” means first class United States mail, but any higher class of mail may be used when “mail” is specified;
    11. “Majority party” means the political party whose members hold the largest number of seats in the combined houses of the general assembly;
    12. “Minority party” means the political party whose members hold the second largest number of seats in the combined houses of the general assembly;
    13. “Newspaper of general circulation” means a publication bearing a title or name, regularly issued at least as frequently as once a week for a definite price, having a second class mailing privilege, being not less than four (4) pages, published continuously during the immediately preceding one-year period, which is published for the dissemination of news of general interest and is circulated generally in the political subdivision in which it is published and in which notice is to be given. In any county where a publication fully complying with this definition does not exist, the state coordinator of elections is authorized to determine the appropriate publication to receive any required election notice. A newspaper which is not engaged in the distribution of news of general interest to the public, but which is primarily engaged in the distribution of news of interest to a particular group of citizens, is not a “newspaper of general circulation”;
    14. “Political party” means an organization which nominates candidates for public office;
    15. “Poll book” means the official record book of an election containing poll lists;
    16. “Poll list” means the official list of the names of voters in an election. In computerized counties, such a list may consist of a computer printout of registered voters who voted in that election;
    17. “Polling place” means the room or rooms where voters apply to vote and mark and cast their ballots;
    18. “Precinct” means a geographic unit for the holding of elections having one (1) polling place;
    19. “Primary election” means an election held for a political party for the purpose of allowing members of that party to select a nominee or nominees to appear on the general election ballot;
    20. “Protective counter” means a voting machine counter which cannot be reset and which records the total number of movements of the operating lever of the machine;
    21. “Public counter” means a voting machine counter which shows the total number of movements of the operating lever of the machine at any point in time during an election;
    22. “Question” means a statement of a constitutional amendment or any other proposition submitted to the vote of the people;
    23. “Recognized minor party” means any group or association that has successfully petitioned by filing with the coordinator of elections a petition which shall conform to requirements established by the coordinator of elections, but which must at a minimum bear the signatures of registered voters equal to at least two and one-half percent (2.5%) of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor, and on each page of the petition, state its purpose, state its name, and contain the names of registered voters from a single county;
    24. “Registered voter” means a qualified voter who has fulfilled the registration requirements of this title;
    25. “Regular August election” means the election held on the first Thursday in August of every even-numbered year;
    26. “Regular November election” means the election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every even-numbered year;
    27. “Resident” has the meaning given in §§ 2-2-102 and 2-2-122;
    28. “State election” means an election held to:
      1. Nominate a political party's candidates for state, county or district offices; or
      2. Choose state, county or district officers;
    29. “Statewide election” means an election held to nominate or to choose officers elected by or to submit a question to the voters of the entire state; and
    30. “Statewide political party” means a political party at least one (1) of whose candidates for an office to be elected by voters of the entire state has received a number of votes equal to at least five percent (5%) of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor.
  2. Where any act or section of the Tennessee Code refers to chapters or sections of the former title 2 of the Tennessee Code, which was repealed effective January 15, 1973, such references are deemed references to the appropriate chapters or sections of this title.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, §§ 1, 5; 1973, ch. 327, § 1; 1975, ch. 72, § 5; T.C.A., § 2-104; Acts 1980, ch. 725, §§ 1, 2; 1983, ch. 450, § 1; 1990, ch. 727, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 1108, § 2; 2010, ch. 612, § 6; 2011, ch. 257, §§ 1, 2; 2011, ch. 301, § 5; 2016, ch. 1016, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2008, ch. 1108, § 1 provided that the act shall be known and may be cited as the “Tennessee Voter Confidence Act.”

Acts 2011, ch. 301, § 7 provided that nothing in the act, which deleted the definitions of “precinct-based optical scanner”, “top race”, “voter-verified paper ballot” and “voting system”, shall be construed as restricting or otherwise prohibiting the utilization of precinct-based optical scanners approved for use pursuant to title 2, chapter 9, and in use by a county election commission on May 27, 2011, or the replacement of such voting machines through lease or purchase with the approval of the state coordinator of elections.

Amendments. The 2016 amendment deleted “in the past four (4) calendar years” following “the entire state” in definition of “Statewide political party”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 1016, § 2. April 28, 2016.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality of requirements for ballot access by new political parties, OAG 99-121 (5/19/99).

“The West Tennessee Examiner” is not suitable for publication of official notices under the Election Code because it is a free publication, OAG 00-160 (10/17/00).

The “Tennessee Tribune” qualifies as a “newspaper” and/or a “newspaper of general circulation” for purposes of publication of official notices, OAG 01-095 (6/7/01).

The City Paper is a newspaper of general circulation for purposes of publishing statutorily required notices, other than those required under the Election Code, OAG 02-050 (4/17/02).

“The West Tennessee Examiner” is not suitable for publication of official notices under the Election Code, OAG 03-076 (6/20/03).

It is not the unauthorized practice of law for a court to develop form petitions and orders and to direct non-attorney members of the clerk's office to make petitions available for use by pro se litigants seeking to have their driving privileges restored, OAG 04-071 (4/21/04).

Newspaper of general circulation, OAG 05-149 (9/29/05).

Hamilton County Herald is a “newspaper” or a “newspaper of general circulation,” OAG 06-091 (5/16/06).

The “Commercial Appeal” qualifies as a “newspaper” or “newspaper of general circulation” for purposes of publication of official notices, OAG 06-127 (8/4/06).

“Chattanooga Times Free Press” as a “newspaper” and/or “newspaper of general circulation,” OAG 06-158 (10/9/06).

“Knoxville Journal” as “newspaper” and/or “newspaper of general circulation,” OAG 06-166 (11/9/06).

“The Murfreesboro Post” as a “newspaper” or “newspaper of general circulation,” OAG 07-062 (5/7/07).

“Rutherford County Reader” as “newspaper” and/or “newspaper of general circulation”, OAG 07-146 (10/19/07).

“The Tennessean” as a “newspaper” and/or a “newspaper of general circulation,” OAG 09-007 (1/26/09).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

It is reasonable to require minority political parties to demonstrate support from electors by the means prescribed in this section in order to obtain a position on the ballot for statewide offices pursuant to § 2-13-201, and these requirements do not invidiously discriminate against minority parties. Tennessee Libertarian Party v. Democratic Party, 555 S.W.2d 102, 1977 Tenn. LEXIS 622 (Tenn. 1977), rehearing denied, Tenn. Libertarian Party v. Democratic Party, 555 S.W.2d 102, 1977 Tenn. LEXIS 623 (Tenn. 1977).

Delegation to the State Elections Coordinator of authority to establish requirements for recognition of minor parties under T.C.A. § 2-1-104 violated the parties' constitutional right to have voting procedures established by the state legislature and was unconstitutionally vague, since the delegation did not delineate any general policy, articulate intelligible standards for the Coordinator's exercise of the delegated authority, nor fix the boundaries of the delegated authority. Green Party of Tenn. Constitution Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 882 F. Supp. 2d 959, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13765 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2012), rev'd, Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

Requirement under T.C.A. § 2-1-104 that minor political parties obtain 2.5 percent of the votes in the prior gubernatorial election in order to be recognized minor political parties violated the parties'  constitutional right to freedom of association, since only a showing of a modicum of support among potential voters was constitutionally required, and the arbitrary percentage was excessive in the absence of any state interest warranting the requirement. Green Party of Tenn. Constitution Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 882 F. Supp. 2d 959, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13765 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2012), rev'd, Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

Definition of a “recognized minor party,” as set forth in T.C.A. § 2-1-104, is not unconstitutionally vague on its face because a fair reading of the statute does not compel an interpretation that gives the coordinator of elections unfettered discretion to establish party qualifying petition requirements that the legislature failed to establish. Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

Definition of a “recognized minor party,” as set forth in T.C.A. § 2-1-104, does not constitute an impermissible delegation of legislative authority because it can reasonably be interpreted to comply with U.S. Const. art. I, § 4; the Tennessee General Assembly prescribed the key substantive regulations governing minor-party nominating petitions, including the 2.5% signature provision and 119-day filing deadline, while expressly delegating to the coordinator of elections the administrative task of establishing the petition's form. Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

T.C.A. § 2-1-104(a)(24) unduly burdened minority political parties' First Amendment rights, under strict scrutiny, because requiring 40,000 plus signatures for ballot access made access futile. Green Party v. Hargett, 953 F. Supp. 2d 816, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91393 (M.D. Tenn. June 17, 2013), rev'd, Green Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 767 F.3d 533, 2014 FED App. 201P (6th Cir.), 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16207 (6th Cir. Tenn. 2014).

Minority political parties had standing to contest Tennessee ballot access laws because: (1) the case had been remanded to consider the parties' claims, after statutory amendments; and (2) the parties' were still required to obtain signatures equal to 2.5 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election, under T.C.A. § 2-1-104(a)(24). Green Party v. Hargett, 953 F. Supp. 2d 816, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91393 (M.D. Tenn. June 17, 2013), rev'd, Green Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 767 F.3d 533, 2014 FED App. 201P (6th Cir.), 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16207 (6th Cir. Tenn. 2014).

2. Selection of Nominees.

The method of selecting nominees used by the Tennessee State Democratic Executive Committee is not an election within the meaning of that term in this section. State ex rel. Inman v. Brock, 622 S.W.2d 36, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 441 (Tenn. 1981), cert. denied, Inman v. Brock, 454 U.S. 941, 102 S. Ct. 477, 70 L. Ed. 2d 249, 1981 U.S. LEXIS 4116 (1981).

2-1-105. Voting eligibility.

Only qualified voters who are registered under this title may vote at elections in Tennessee.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-105.

Cross-References. Right to vote, Tenn. Const., art. IV, § 1.

Law Reviews.

Rethinking the Right to Vote Under State Constitutions, 67 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 189 (2014).

The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College, 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Attorney General Opinions. “Qualified voter” under city charter, OAG 99-077 (4/5/99).

Although the Tennessee Constitution does not prohibit persons under the age of 18 from voting in municipal elections, current Tennessee law prohibits persons under the age of 18 from voting in municipal elections. A municipality’s home rule status has no effect on the application of the suffrage clause to municipal elections or on the ability of the legislature to establish a statewide age requirement for voters. Accordingly, under current law, a municipality may not allow any person under the age of 18 to vote in a municipal election, regardless of whether the municipality has adopted home rule. OAG 18-29, 2018 Tenn. AG LEXIS 28 (7/6/2018).

2-1-106. Absence from work allowed for voting.

  1. Any person entitled to vote in an election held in this state may be absent from any service or employment on the day of the election for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.
  2. A voter who is absent from work to vote in compliance with this section may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.
  3. If the tour of duty of an employee begins three (3) or more hours after the opening of the polls or ends three (3) or more hours before the closing of the polls of the county where the employee is a resident, the employee may not take time off under this section.
  4. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent. Application for such absence shall be made to the employer before twelve o'clock (12:00) noon of the day before the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-106.

Cross-References. Exemption of national guard from duty on election day, § 58-1-229.

2-1-107. Signer of petition — Address required.

  1. Any person signing a petition required under this title, whether for nomination of a candidate, for a referendum or for any other purpose, shall include the address of such person's residence. The signer of a petition must include the address of such person's residence as shown on such person's voter registration card in order for that person's signature to be counted; provided, that if the address shown on the petition is within the precinct in which the person is registered but is not the address shown on the registration card, the signature shall be valid and shall be counted. In the event that the signer of a petition includes information on a nominating petition that exceeds the information contained on such person's voter registration card, the signature shall be counted if there is no conflict between them. If no street address is shown on the signer's voter registration card, that person's signature and address as shown on such person's voter registration card shall be sufficient. However, a street address shall be sufficient, and no apartment number shall be required.
  2. Any person who signed a permanent registration card shall sign any petition signed under this title; provided, that any person who printed such person's name on such person's permanent registration card shall print the name on any petition signed under this title. However, failure to comply with the foregoing shall not operate to disqualify any nominating signature or candidate's signature.
  3. A person's regular signature shall be accepted just as such person's legal signature would be accepted. For example, for the purposes of this section “Joe Public” shall be accepted just as “Joseph Q. Public” would be accepted.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-106; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 2; 1988, ch. 933, § 1.

Attorney General Opinions. The redistricting by a city of its council districts during the 75 day signature gathering period in T.C.A. § 2-5-151(f)(2) has no effect on the requirements of §§ 2-5-151(e)(2) and 2-1-107, OAG 01-100 (6/18/01).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Verification of Signatures.

Data processing method used to verify signatures on two petitions for a referendum election on proposed amendments to charter of Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, whereby computer compared signatures on petitions with permanent voter registration file, without checking addresses, and reported a match only if the name keyed in corresponded exactly with a name listed on the voter registration file, contravened the public policy of the state and would be deemed arbitrary and not in conformity with the law. State ex rel. Wise v. Judd, 655 S.W.2d 952, 1983 Tenn. LEXIS 711 (Tenn. 1983).

2-1-108. Filing of required documents.

  1. When any document is required to be filed by a date or time prescribed by this title, it shall be received by the officer or body with which it is to be filed by the date or time prescribed.
  2. The document shall be prominently marked with the time and date of filing and a receipt showing the same information shall be given to the person filing the document.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-108.

2-1-109. Copies of documents — Certification.

  1. Whenever copies or duplicates of documents, other than tally sheets and similar election return papers, are required, they shall be legible and may be made by any copying method, including photocopying, which is commonly used in business in this state for permanent records.
  2. If copies or duplicates have to be certified, they shall be certified as true copies of the original either by a person who signed the original or by the person who made the copies. The person who certifies the copies or duplicates shall indicate the capacity in which such person is certifying.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-109.

2-1-110. Publication of notice by commission or board.

When a commission or board established under this title is required to publish any notice in a newspaper of general circulation:

  1. It shall publish the notice, if possible, in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which notice is to be given;
  2. It shall publish the notice in as many newspapers of general circulation as may be necessary to give notice effectively to the qualified voters of the area in which notice is to be given; and
  3. Notices that require the same time frame for publication may be combined for publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-110; Acts 2004, ch. 480, § 1.

Cross-References. Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

2-1-111. Oath of administrators of election laws.

Each person charged with the administration of any part of the election laws of this state shall, before entering upon the performance of such duties, take the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Tennessee, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of my office.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-111.

Cross-References. Oaths of office, §§ 8-18-1078-18-114.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 7.

2-1-112. Restrictions on commission or board membership or service as campaign manager or treasurer or election official.

    1. An elected official or an employee of a municipal, county, state, or federal governmental body or agency shall not serve as a member of a county election commission.
    2. A member of a county election commission shall not serve as the campaign manager or treasurer of any candidate's political campaign in a local, state, or federal election during the commissioner's term of office. A violation of this subdivision (a)(2) subjects the member to immediate removal from office by a majority vote of the state election commission. This subdivision (a)(2) does not prohibit a member of the county election commission from providing uncompensated advice on a one-on-one basis to a candidate or party officer, nor does it prohibit providing a financial contribution to a candidate or party organization.
    3. A candidate in an election shall not act in connection with that election as a member of any board or commission established under this title or as an election official.
  1. The following persons shall not serve as election officials:
    1. An employee of a county or city who works directly under the supervision of an elected official who is on the ballot;
    2. The spouse, parent, father-in-law, mother-in-law, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of a candidate or declared write-in candidate to be voted for at the election in that precinct or district. This subdivision (b)(2) disqualifies a person whose relationship to the candidate is the result of birth, marriage, or adoption. This subdivision (b)(2) does not disqualify a person from serving as an election official if the candidate to whom the person is related is an unopposed candidate. For purposes of this subdivision (b)(2), an “unopposed candidate” includes an individual whose nomination to an office at a primary election is unopposed by any other candidate within the same political party; or
    3. A member of a reserve unit of the United States army, air force, marine corps or navy, or a member of the national guard who is on active duty.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 538, § 1; 1979, ch. 304, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-112; Acts 1981, ch. 106, § 1; 1984, ch. 664, § 1; 2005, ch. 163, § 5; 2008, ch. 1051, § 1; 2013, ch. 146, §§ 1-3; 2020, ch. 655, § 3.

Amendments. The 2020 amendment rewrote this section, which read: “(a)(1) Neither an elected official nor an employee of a county, municipal or federal governmental body or agency or of an elected official may serve as a member of a county election commission or as a member of a county primary board or as an election official. No candidate in an election may act in connection with that election as a member of any board or commission established under this title or as an election official.“(2) No state employee may serve as a member of a county election commission or as a member of a county primary board.“(3) No member of a county election commission who is appointed to the commission after January 1, 2009, shall be the campaign manager or treasurer of any candidate's political campaign in a local, state or federal election during the commissioner's term of office. A violation of this subdivision (a)(3) subjects the member to immediate removal from office by a majority vote of the state election commission. Nothing in this subdivision (a)(3) shall be construed to prohibit a member of the county election commission from providing uncompensated advice on a one-on-one basis to a candidate or party officer, nor shall it prohibit providing a financial contribution to a candidate or party organization.”;“(b) (1) This section does not disqualify any person who is within its terms solely because the person is a notary public, or a member of a reserve unit of the United States army, air force, marine corps or navy, or a member of the national guard unless the person is a full-time employee or member of such reserve unit or the national guard, or unless the person is on active duty.“(2) This section does not disqualify any employee of a county or city school system who does not work directly under the supervision of an elected official.“(3) This section does not disqualify any person from service as an officer of elections, judge, machine operator, assistant precinct registrar or inspector because the person is a member of a reserve unit of the United States army, air force, marine corps or navy or the national guard except while the person is on active duty.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

Cross-References. Qualifications of commissioners, § 2-12-102.

State election commissioners prohibited from serving as political candidate's campaign manager or treasurer, § 2-11-111.

Attorney General Opinions. T.C.A. § 2-1-112(a) would not prohibit a city or county elected official from serving on the state election commission, OAG 02-117 (10/22/02).

T.C.A. § 2-1-112(a) prohibits a candidate for election or reelection to a county or city office or for election to any other state or local office from serving as a member of the state election commission, OAG 02-117 (10/22/02).

A member of the county election commission may not serve as a member of the county civil service board, OAG 02-121 (10/30/02).

A quo warranto action appears to be the proper vehicle for challenging the qualifications of an individual. prohibited from serving by T.C.A. § 2-1-112, OAG 05-049 (4/19/05).

In light of T.C.A. § 2-1-112, an individual who works for county school board in an administrative, non-teacher capacity may not serve on a county election commission, OAG 05-049 (4/19/05).

Constitutionality of restriction on political activity of election commissioners, OAG 07-023 (3/1/07).

County election commissioner serving on county board of public utilities.  OAG 13-77, 2013 Tenn. AG LEXIS 78 (10/17/13).

2-1-113. Meetings of boards and commissions.

    1. Boards and commissions established under this title shall meet on the call of their chair, or if there is no chair, of the oldest member of the body in age.
    2. All meetings shall be open and subject to  title 8, chapter 44.
    3. With respect to meetings regularly scheduled by county election commissions or county primary boards, the public notice requirement of this section may be met by permanently posting in the commission office a conspicuous meeting notice. All notices shall state the time, place and purpose for which the meeting is called.
    4. Official minutes of all meetings shall be kept in permanent form and shall include the vote of each member on all issues passed upon. Minutes shall be available to the public for examination at reasonable times.
  1. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for any board or commission established under this title. Action shall be taken by vote of the majority of the members of the board or commission present. Any action taken at a meeting which does not meet the requirements of this section is voidable at the request of any person who is adversely affected by the action.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-113; Acts 1980, ch. 609, § 2.

2-1-114. Requisites for political parties.

No political party may have nominees on a ballot or exercise any of the rights of political parties under this title until its officers have filed on its behalf with the secretary of state and with the coordinator of elections:

  1. An affidavit under oath that it does not advocate the overthrow of local, state or national government by force or violence and that it is not affiliated with any organization which does advocate such a policy; and
  2. A copy of the rules under which the party and its subdivisions operate. Copies of amendments or additions to the rules shall be filed with the secretary of state and with the coordinator of elections within thirty (30) days after they are adopted and shall be of no effect until ten (10) days after they are filed.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-114.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Tennessee's requirement that minor or new political parties file an affidavit stating that the party does not advocate overthrow of the government by force or violence before the party's nominees could be placed on the ballot violates the First Amendment, as loyalty oaths are unconstitutional; however, the requirement that the party's rules of operation be filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State is unrelated to the loyalty oath requirement. Green Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 791 F.3d 684, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11438, 2015 FED App. 136P (6th Cir. 2015).

Collateral References.

Political principles or affiliations as ground for refusal of government officials to take steps necessary to representation of party or candidate upon official ticket. 130 A.L.R. 1471.

2-1-115. Computation of time.

The computation of time within which to do any act required by this title shall be in accordance with § 1-3-102.

Acts 1979, ch. 306, § 4; T.C.A., § 2-115; Acts 1980, ch. 609, § 3; 1991, ch. 273, § 1.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. First Day.

The “first day” which is excluded in the calculation of the 10-day period (now 5 days) in § 2-17-105 is the day of the election. Sanders v. Parks, 718 S.W.2d 676, 1986 Tenn. LEXIS 803 (Tenn. 1986).

2-1-116. Removal of campaign advertising.

  1. After the conclusion of a primary, general, or special election, candidates in such election shall be responsible for the removal of any signs, posters, or placards advocating their candidacy, which have been placed on highway rights-of-way or other publicly owned property. The removal of such materials shall be accomplished within a reasonable period of time following the election, not to exceed three (3) weeks.
  2. Any candidate in a primary election who will also be a candidate in a general or special election following that primary shall not be required to remove any signs advocating such candidate's candidacy until after the conclusion of the general or special election.
  3. This section shall not be construed as being penal in nature. There shall be no punitive measures taken against a candidate or workers if all signs are not removed.

Acts 1983, ch. 197, § 1.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

2-1-117. Newspaper of general circulation.

Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, in any municipality in any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population of more than one hundred thousand (100,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, and in any municipality incorporated pursuant to title 6, chapter 18, having a population of not less than eleven thousand two hundred (11,200) nor more than eleven thousand three hundred (11,300) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, which lies within both a county having a metropolitan form of government and a population in excess of one hundred thousand (100,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census and a county having a population of not less than one hundred three thousand one hundred (103,100) nor more than one hundred three thousand four hundred (103,400) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, for the purposes of this chapter a “newspaper of general circulation” includes a publication bearing a title or name, regularly issued at least as frequently as once a week for a definite price, having a third-class mailing privilege, being not less than four (4) pages, published continuously during the immediately preceding one-year period, which is published for the dissemination of news of general interest to the community which it serves, and is circulated generally in the municipality in which it is published and in which notice is to be given.

Acts 1993, ch. 507, § 1; 1994, ch. 898, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of population of Tennessee municipalities, and for U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

2-1-118. Consolidated report on the Help America Vote Act requirements and payments.

The secretary of state shall file a copy of the previous year's consolidated report on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Title I, § 101, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 15301, funds and Title II, § 251, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 15401, requirements and payments to the finance, ways and means committees of the senate and house of representatives, the fiscal review committee and the office of legislative budget analysis by February 1 of each year.

Acts 2010, ch. 947, § 1.

2-1-119. Monitoring of elections by U.N. representative.

Any representative of the United Nations appearing without a treaty ratified by the United States senate stating that the United Nations can monitor elections in this state, shall not monitor elections in this state.

Acts 2014, ch. 807, § 1.

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 807, § 2. April 25, 2014.

Chapter 2
Voter Registration

Part 1
Registration by Election Commissions

2-2-101. Chapter definitions.

As used in this chapter:

  1. “Administrator of elections” means the chief administrative officer appointed by the county election commission. The “administrator of elections” created by this section is the immediate successor to the “registrar-at-large” for each county;
  2. “Commission” means the county election commission unless another intent is clearly shown; and
  3. “Deputy” means all office personnel or clerical assistants other than the administrator of elections and is the immediate successor to “deputy registrar.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-201; Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21, 22.

Cross-References. Administrators of elections, title 2, ch. 12, part 2.

Duties of coordinator of elections, § 2-11-202.

Law Reviews.

Rethinking the Right to Vote Under State Constitutions, 67 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 189 (2014).

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College, 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).

Collateral References.

Constitutionality of statutes in relation to registration before voting at election or primary. 91 A.L.R. 349.

2-2-102. Qualified voter.

A citizen of the United States eighteen (18) years of age or older who is a resident of this state is a qualified voter unless the citizen is disqualified under the provisions of this title or under a judgment of infamy pursuant to § 40-20-112.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 327, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-202; Acts 1981, ch. 342, § 2; 1994, ch. 919, § 1.

Cross-References. Acts purging registration, § 2-2-106.

Duties of election coordinator, § 2-11-202.

Judgment of infamy, § 40-20-112.

Notice of infamy, § 40-20-113.

Registration information, § 2-2-116.

Restoration of suffrage, §§ 2-2-139, 40-29-101.

Suffrage for persons convicted of infamous crimes, § 2-19-143.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 4, 6.

Law Reviews.

The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College, 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).

Residency Requirements — Application of “Compelling State Interest” Test, 2 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 114 (1972).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Attorney General Opinions. “Qualified voter” under city charter, OAG 99-077 (4/5/99).

Right of non-resident property owners to vote in annexation referendum.  OAG 13-106, 2013 Tenn. AG LEXIS 111 (12/20/13).

T.C.A. § 8-8-102(a)(3) imposes two requirements on potential candidates who seek to qualify for election or appointment to the office of sheriff.  First, the candidate must be a “qualified voter of the county,” which requires the candidate to satisfy the qualifications in T.C.A. § 2-2-102, but does not require the candidate to be registered to vote.  Second, the candidate must have been a “resident of the county for one (1) full year” prior to the qualification deadline. OAG 17-36, 2017 Tenn. AD LEXIS 36 (8/30/2017).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Disclosure of Social Security Number.

The state's requirement of disclosure of a social security number as a pre-condition to voter registration, as expressed in T.C.A. § 2-2-116, is not unconstitutional; nor does that statute violate the National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq. McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 2000 FED App. 329P, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 23387 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 906, 121 S. Ct. 1230, 149 L. Ed. 2d 139, 2001 U.S. LEXIS 2020 (2001).

Collateral References.

Residence or domicile of student or teacher for purpose of voting. 44 A.L.R.3d 797.

Right of married woman to use maiden surname. 67 A.L.R.3d 1266.

State voting rights of residents of federal military establishment. 34 A.L.R.2d 1193.

2-2-103. Effect of change of residence within thirty (30) days of election.

If a registered voter moves such voter's residence from this state after the thirtieth day before an election for electors for president and vice president and for that reason does not satisfy the registration requirements of such voter's new residence for that election, the voter continues to be a registered voter but only for electors for president and vice president in that election in the voting precinct in which the voter was last registered. The voter may vote either in person or by absentee ballot.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-203.

2-2-104. Persons entitled to register.

The following persons may register permanently under this title:

  1. A person who is a qualified voter when such person applies to register;
  2. A person residing in an area within this state which has been ceded to the federal government if the person is otherwise qualified to vote; and
  3. A person who will be eighteen (18) years of age on or before the date of the next election after the person applies to register and who is otherwise eligible to register.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-204; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 2.

Collateral References.

Validity of statute requiring proof and disclosure of information as condition of registration to vote. 48 A.L.R.6th 181.

2-2-105. Permanency of registration.

Registration of voters under this title is permanent. When a voter has once been registered under this title or under any previous permanent registration law if the voter would be eligible under this title, it is unnecessary for such voter to register again unless the voter's registration is purged under this title or was purged under a previous permanent registration law.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-205.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

2-2-106. Acts purging registration — Notice.

  1. The registration of a person shall be purged:
    1. At the request of the voter;
    2. Ninety (90) days after a change of name for any reason, except by marriage or divorce;
    3. If the voter dies;
    4. Upon receiving information that a person has been convicted of an infamous crime as defined by § 40-20-112 from the state coordinator of elections, the district attorney general, United States attorney, clerk of the court that entered the conviction, or other source upon verification by the clerk of the convicting court; or
    5. Upon written confirmation from the voter that the voter has changed the voter's address to an address outside the county of registration or has registered to vote in another jurisdiction.
  2. It is the responsibility of the county election commission to implement an address verification program to identify any voter who has changed the voter's address of residence without notifying the election commission. The address verification program shall conform to the intent of this section and this part and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 U.S.C. § 20501 et seq., formerly 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq.). The county election commission shall complete the address verification process at least on a biennial basis, but may do so annually. The county election commission shall complete any such process no later than ninety (90) days before a federal election.
    1. To identify any voter who has changed the voter's address of residence without notifying the county election commission, the address verification program implemented by the county election commission under subsection (b) may use any of the following, or any combination of the following, sources:
      1. The return of mail sent by the county election commission to the voter at the voter's address of registration. The mail sent to the voter may include, without limitation, a non-forwardable verification card, a non-forwardable voter registration card, or a notice mailed pursuant to § 2-3-105 or § 2-5-211;
      2. The United States postal service's national change of address service; and
      3. Information received from the coordinator of elections as a result of a comparison of voter registration addresses with the residential addresses of record with the department of safety. To conduct the comparison of residential addresses, the department of safety and the coordinator of elections may retrieve the data applicable to the voter's address of residence and match the voter's registration address with data applicable to the voter's matching record with the department of safety. The coordinator of elections may obtain from the department of safety a list of all persons who have surrendered their Tennessee driver license while obtaining a driver license from another state.
    2. If, as a result of the address verification program, the county election commission determines that a voter may have changed the voter's address of residence, the administrator of elections shall mail a forwardable confirmation notice to the voter at the address of registration with a postage prepaid, pre-addressed return form on which the voter may verify or correct the new address information.
  3. Upon the mailing of a notice pursuant to subsection (c), the administrator of elections shall place the registration in inactive status and then take one (1) of the following steps as appropriate to the response of the voter or the failure of the voter to respond to the notice:
    1. If the voter returns the form or otherwise notifies the election commission in writing and indicates that there is in fact no change in address, the voter's registration will be returned to active status;
    2. If the voter returns the form or otherwise notifies the election commission in writing and indicates a new address within the county of current registration, the voter's registration will be updated to reflect the new address of residence;
    3. If the voter returns the form or otherwise notifies the election commission in writing and indicates a new address in another county, the administrator of elections shall remove the voter's name from the voter registration rolls, and shall advise the voter how to register in the new county of residence;
    4. If a voter fails to respond to a confirmation notice and the voter in fact does not have a new address or has a new address within the same precinct, the voter may appear at the voter's polling place and vote in any election held between the time the notice was sent and the second regular November election held after the notice was sent. When appearing to vote, the person will be required to make written affirmation on the affidavit as described in § 2-7-140 and vote according to the procedures outlined in that section;
    5. If a voter fails to respond to a confirmation notice and if the voter has changed the voter's address of residence to an address within the same county but in another precinct, the voter may correct the registration and vote at the appropriate polling place for the voter's new residence in any election held between the time the notice was sent and the second regular November election held after the notice was sent. When appearing to vote, the person will be required to make written affirmation on the affidavit as described in § 2-7-140 and vote according to the procedures outlined in that section;
    6. If a voter fails to respond to a confirmation notice and if the voter has changed the voter's address of residence to an address outside the county of registration, the voter may not vote until such voter becomes properly registered in the new county of residence except as provided in § 2-7-115; and
    7. A voter may use a response to a confirmation notice to update the voter's registration to reflect a change in the voter's name.
  4. If the voter fails to respond to the confirmation notice, does not appear to vote, and does not update the voter registration between the time the notice is sent and the second regular November election held after the notice was sent, the administrator of elections shall purge the voter's registration.
  5. Notwithstanding anything in this section to the contrary, the administrator shall send a voter's registration card by non-forwardable mail.
  6. Voter registrations that are inactive pursuant to the provisions of this section shall not be included in a county's total of registered voters. The administrator shall maintain a separate total of voters on inactive status.
  7. Any person who intentionally makes a false affirmation pursuant to this section violates § 2-19-107 and shall be punished as provided in § 2-19-107.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1976, ch. 407, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-206; Acts 1981, ch. 345, § 4; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 19, 21; 1994, ch. 947, § 8; 1995, ch. 76, § 2; 1996, ch. 735, §§ 1, 2; 1997, ch. 550, § 1; 2011, ch. 161, § 1; 2017, ch. 245, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment, in (b), in the second sentence, substituted “The address” for “This address” at the beginning, substituted “shall conform to” for “shall conform with”, and substituted “compiled in 52 U.S.C. § 20501 et seq. (formerly 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq.)” for “compiled as 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq.” at the end; and substituted “no later than ninety (90) days before a federal election” for “not later than ninety (90) days before the regular August election” at the end of the last sentence; added present (c)(1) and designated the former paragraph as (c)(2); and, in present (c)(2), substituted “voter may have” for “voter has”,  substituted the second occurrence of “voter” for “registrant”, and deleted the former  second sentence which read: “The county election commission shall also follow this process if indications exist that the voter may no longer reside at the address at which the voter is registered, such as the voter's failure to vote, or otherwise update the voter's registration over a period of two (2) consecutive regular November elections.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 245, § 6.  May 2, 2017.

Cross-References. Duties of election coordinator, § 2-11-202.

Judgment of infamy, § 40-20-112.

Notice of infamy, § 40-20-113.

Qualified voters, § 2-2-102.

Registration information, § 2-2-116.

Restoration of suffrage, §§ 2-2-139, 40-29-101.

Suffrage for persons convicted of infamous crimes, § 2-19-143.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Surname of Married Woman.

Woman was not required to assume surname of her husband upon marriage or to register anew under her husband's surname and registrar improperly purged her voting registration for refusal to so register. Dunn v. Palermo, 522 S.W.2d 679, 1975 Tenn. LEXIS 724 (Tenn. 1975).

Collateral References.

Right of married woman to use maiden surname. 67 A.L.R.3d 1266.

Validity of statute providing for purging voter registration lists of inactive voters. 51 A.L.R.6th 287.

2-2-107. Precinct or municipality of registration — Change of habitation without change of residence.

    1. A person shall be registered as a voter of the precinct in which the person is a resident, and, if provided for by municipal charter or general law, may also be registered in a municipality in which the person owns real property in order to participate in that municipality's elections.
    2. Notwithstanding any provision of this title to the contrary, if a person's residence is located on real property which is located in both a municipality and in an unincorporated area in the county in which the municipality is located, then such person shall be eligible to vote in municipal elections if municipal taxes are assessed on the portion of real property located within the municipality. In a county having a metropolitan form of government, “unincorporated area,” as used in this subdivision (a)(2), includes an area outside the boundaries of any of the smaller cities within the metropolitan government.
    3. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if a municipal charter provides for property rights voting, no more than two (2) persons shall be entitled to vote based upon the ownership of an individual tract of property regardless of the number of property owners.
  1. If a voter moves such voter's habitation outside the precinct where the person is a registered voter but continues to be a resident of the precinct, the county election commission shall determine the person's rights and duties on the basis of the location of the person's last residence in the precinct before the person's change of habitation.
  2. In order to timely correct voter registration records, municipalities which have annexed territory or changed any district or ward boundary shall provide each county election commission affected by the change with the following:
    1. Maps depicting the area;
    2. A copy of the ordinance or resolution calling for the change denoting, if applicable, which wards or districts the annexed or changed area will be a part of; and
    3. A copy of the census taken for the annexation, if available, with names and addresses within the annexed area.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 944, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-207; Acts 1996, ch. 765, § 1; 1999, ch. 197, § 1; 2001, ch. 413, § 13; 2003, ch. 134, § 1; 2014, ch. 724, § 5.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment, in (a)(2), rewrote the first sentence which read: “Notwithstanding any provision of this title to the contrary, if a person's residence is located on real property which is located in both a municipality and in an unincorporated area in the county in which the municipality is located, then such person shall be eligible to register either in the municipal precinct or the county precinct in which such property is located.”, and deleted the former last sentence which read: “The election by a person to register in the municipality or the unincorporated area of the county is a one-time election.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 4, 6.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Annexation Law: History, Analysis, and Proposed Amendments (Frederic S. Le Clercq), 55 Tenn. L. Rev. 577 (1989).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Correction of Voter Registration Records.

Failure of county election commission to systematically check and correct voter registration records was unlawful under this section, where past registration procedures improperly permitted some voters to remain registered in voting precincts in which they no longer lived. Sullivan v. Crowell, 444 F. Supp. 606, 1978 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19748 (W.D. Tenn. 1978).

2-2-108. Commission offices — Hours — Functions.

    1. Each commission shall have an office in the county courthouse or another public building and such other locations as the commission may designate for registering voters and performing other functions required or authorized by law. The main office shall be open at least from nine o'clock a.m. (9:00 a.m.) until four o'clock p.m. (4:00 p.m.) on such day or days each week as the commission directs.
    2. In counties with administrators of elections certified under § 2-11-202(b), who receive at least ninety percent (90%) or eighty-five percent (85%) of the assessor of property's salary pursuant to § 2-12-208(a)(1) or (a)(3) [now § 2-12-208(a)], respectively, the commission office shall be open during the hours specified in this subsection (a) at least five (5) days per week. In counties with administrators certified under § 2-11-202(b), who receive at least eighty percent (80%) of the assessor of property's salary pursuant to § 2-12-208(a)(2) [now § 2-12-208(a)], the commission office shall be open during the hours specified in this subsection (a) at least four (4) days per week. The hours such offices shall be open established by this subsection (a) shall be the minimum hours, and nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed as prohibiting the election commission from requiring such offices to stay open for additional hours per day or days per week.
  1. The county election commission may establish additional hours when the main office shall be open to perform the commission's statutory functions. The office shall be open as many days a week as necessary to register qualified registrants, to replace lost registration cards, to transfer or change registrations and to perform the other duties of the commission.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 642, §§ 1, 4; T.C.A., § 2-208; Acts 1980, ch. 712, § 1; 1982, ch. 635, § 1; 1986, ch. 930, § 2; 1991, ch. 75, § 1; 1994, ch. 919, § 3; 1996, ch. 1081, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

The bracketed references in subdivision (a)(2) are set out to reflect amendments to § 2-12-208(a) by Acts 2005, ch. 470 which deleted the former subdivision designations.

2-2-109. Registration periods.

  1. A qualified voter may register or have the voter's registration altered at the commission office at any time the office is open, except that applications for registration shall not be processed for twenty-nine (29) days before an election, except as provided in subsection (b); provided, that a qualified voter may file a mail registration form by postmarking the registration form or submitting the registration form thirty (30) days before an election. A mail registration form lacking a postmark, but signed and dated at least thirty (30) days before an election, shall be timely filed if it is received by the county election commission no later than the twenty-seventh day prior to the election. A qualified voter may correct a deficient but timely filed mail registration form if the voter files a completed registration application or otherwise corrects the deficiency on or before the next regularly scheduled November general election. The administrator of elections shall register the person to vote if the person is otherwise eligible to register. Deficient registrations not corrected on or before the next regularly scheduled November general election shall no longer be considered deficient and shall be void. The administrator shall be empowered to update an existing registration until no later than five (5) days before an election to place it within the correct precinct in the county when a voter changes the voter's address through the process described in § 2-7-140.
  2. When the thirtieth day before an election falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, applications for registration shall be accepted and processed the next business day following such Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. This extends the deadline for applications for registration completed at the county election commission office as well as the deadline for having a by-mail registration form postmarked.
  3. When elections are being held in two (2) or more voting districts within any county, the time period for such registration or alteration of permanent registration records shall be calculated for each election separately, and such registration or alteration of permanent registration records is not prohibited in one (1) election because it is twenty-nine (29) days prior to another within the same county.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-209; Acts 1980, ch. 678, § 1; 1980, ch. 728, § 1; 1994, ch. 919, § 4; 1995, ch. 76, § 3; 1997, ch. 550, § 3; 2000, ch. 756, § 1; 2001, ch. 413, § 9; 2002, ch. 698, § 3; 2007, ch. 125, § 1; 2008, ch. 928, § 1; 2013, ch. 179, § 2; 2013, ch. 231, § 1; 2014, ch. 724, § 2; 2016, ch. 827, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment, in (a), substituted “if the voter files a completed registration application or otherwise corrects the deficiency no later than five (5) days before the next regularly scheduled November general election” for “if the voter comes to the commission office no later than five (5) days before the election and presents the rejection of registration notice to the administrator of elections” at the end of the third sentence, added the present fourth sentence, and substituted “The administrator of elections” for “The administrator” at the beginning of the penultimate sentence.

The 2016 amendment, in (a), substituted “on or before the next” for “no later than five (5) days before the next” preceding “regularly scheduled November general election” in the third sentence; added the present fourth sentence; substituted “on or before the next” for “prior to the five (5) days before the next” preceding “regularly scheduled November general election” in the present fifth sentence, and at the end of the same sentence substituted “void” for “rejected”; and deleted the former fifth sentence, which read: “The administrator of elections shall register the person to vote if the person is otherwise eligible to register.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Acts 2016, ch. 827, § 7. April 21, 2016.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Annexation Law: History, Analysis, and Proposed Amendments (Frederic S. Le Clercq), 55 Tenn. L. Rev. 577 (1989).

Attorney General Opinions. Where the thirtieth day before an election falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the deadline for registering to vote is the immediately preceding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, OAG 06-171 (11/22/06).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Effect of Late Registration.

The general rule is that only a substantial compliance, rather than a strictly literal compliance, with the election laws is required, so that, absent proof of fraud, the court would not hold illegal either the ballots of persons who merely voted in the wrong city precinct or the ballots of women who had married since their prior registration and who had simply failed to report a change of name; but where there were more than five clearly illegal ballots cast in an election because of the improper and unauthorized late registration of voters who had not previously registered to vote in municipal elections, those were not minor or technical violations but rather violations of major and important statutory provisions governing the registration of voters, so that the election was held void and a new election ordered. Lanier v. Revell, 605 S.W.2d 821, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 500 (Tenn. 1980).

2-2-110. Registration of those unable to appear at commission office.

The commission may provide for the registration of persons who cannot appear in person due to illness or other good cause by sending the administrator of elections to their homes or other place where they are within the county to register such persons.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-210.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-2-111. Supplemental registrations generally.

  1. The commission in any county may hold such supplemental registrations as it deems necessary before any election in locations other than the commission office.
  2. In addition to any supplemental voter registration otherwise required by this chapter, the county election commission, or its designee, in each county shall conduct at least one (1) supplemental voter registration each year at every public and private high school in the county, for the purpose of registration of those persons who will be eligible to vote in the next election. The publication requirements of § 2-2-114 shall not apply to the registration required by this subsection (b).
  3. As used in this section, “designees” does not include representatives of a nationally recognized political party or representatives of an organization which actively seeks to influence the outcome of an election.
  4. In addition to any supplemental voter registration otherwise required by this chapter, the county election commission, or its designee, shall conduct a supplemental voter registration when a planned and scheduled group naturalization ceremony is held within the county. The county election commission shall attend the supplemental voter registration in person or shall send one (1) or more assistant registrars or other designees in their stead to register such new citizens. The publication requirements of § 2-2-114 shall not apply to the registration required by this subsection (d).

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-211; Acts 1980, ch. 715, §§ 1-4; ch. 772, § 1; 1982, ch. 588, § 1; ch. 719, §§ 1, 2; 1983, ch. 335, § 1; T.C.A. § 2-2-112(b); Acts 1991, ch. 103, §§ 1, 3; 2004, ch. 472, § 1; 2013, ch. 231, § 2; 2018, ch. 842, § 1.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment added the last sentence in (d).

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 842, § 6. April 26, 2018.

2-2-112. Online voter registration system.

  1. Beginning as soon as practicable but no later than September 1, 2017, an applicant may submit an online voter registration application using the procedures set forth in this section.
  2. The coordinator of elections shall establish a web site which permits an applicant to:
    1. Submit a voter registration application, including first-time voter registration applications and updates to current voter registration records;
    2. Submit information necessary to establish an applicant's eligibility to vote, pursuant to § 2-2-104, which includes the information required for the uniform statewide voter registration application pursuant to § 2-2-116; and
    3. Swear or affirm to the oath required pursuant to § 2-2-116.
  3. The online voter registration system shall use a unique identifier for each applicant to prevent unauthorized persons from altering a voter's registration information. Any unique identifier, including driver license and social security numbers, shall be confidential and not subject to the open records law, compiled in title 10, chapter 7.
    1. The online voter registration system shall compare identifying information submitted by the applicant, such as name, date of birth, Tennessee driver license number, or Tennessee identification number, with information maintained by the department of safety to confirm that the applicant has a matching record with the department of safety.
    2. If the online voter registration system identifies a matching record for the applicant with the department of safety, then the applicant may complete the online voter registration form as prescribed by the coordinator of elections and electronically submit the form.
    3. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the department of safety and the coordinator of elections are authorized to retrieve the data applicable to the applicant's matching record and transmit such data to the automated electoral system (AES) maintained by the coordinator of elections pursuant to § 2-2-301, along with the digital signature of the applicant on file with the department of safety. The applicant's digital signature on file with the department of safety satisfies the signature requirement of § 2-2-116 for purposes of registering to vote or updating an existing voter registration record.
    4. If the applicant's name and date of birth or other identifying information provided by the applicant cannot be verified by comparing the records of the department of safety, or if the applicant indicates that the applicant has not been issued a Tennessee driver license or Tennessee identification card, the online voter registration system may direct the applicant to complete, print, sign, and date the application and mail the application to the county election commission office in the applicant's county of residence to be processed.
    5. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the administrator of elections shall process the application pursuant to § 2-2-120.
  4. The coordinator of elections may promulgate policies or rules to effectuate the provisions of this section, including, but not limited to, entering into agreements with the commissioner of safety.

Acts 2016, ch. 936, § 1; 2017, ch. 245, § 3.

Code Commission Notes.

Acts 2016, ch. 936 § 1 enacted a new section, 2-2-142, but the section has been redesignated as section 2-2-112 by authority of the Code Commission.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-2-112 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-212; Acts 1980, ch. 715, §§ 1-4; ch. 772, § 1; 1982, ch. 588, § 1; 1982, ch. 719, §§ 1, 2; 1983, ch. 335, § 1; 1991, ch. 103, §§ 2, 3), concerning supplemental registrations in particular counties, was repealed by Acts 1997, ch. 558, § 13.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment substituted “Beginning as soon as practicable but no later than September 1, 2017” for “Beginning July 1, 2017” at the beginning of (a).

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 936, § 2. July 1, 2016.

Acts 2017, ch. 245, § 6.  May 2, 2017.

Law Reviews.

New Kind of Voter Suppression in Modern Elections, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1019 (Summer 2019).

2-2-113. [Repealed.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-2-113 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-213), concerning precinct registration by precinct registrars, was repealed by Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 5.

2-2-114. Newspaper notice of commission office location — Notices of precinct or supplemental registrations.

  1. Not less than forty-five (45) days before any election, the commission shall publish, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, a notice of the exact location and telephone number of its office or offices and the hours and days it is open.
  2. Whenever a county has a supplemental registration, the commission shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, a notice of the exact location and the time for such supplemental registration. The commission shall publish the notice not less than three (3) days before the beginning of each supplemental registration. The commission shall include in the notice a statement that a transfer of registration may also be done at the supplemental registration.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 941, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-214; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 6.

Cross-References. Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104..

2-2-115. Registration by mail — Forms.

  1. Qualified voters may register by mail by use of postal card forms in such a manner as provided for in this section.
    1. The coordinator of elections shall prepare voter registration forms in accordance with the provisions of this section and shall provide for the printing of an ample quantity of such registration forms to be distributed under the provisions of this section.
    2. Printed registration forms shall be designed to provide a simple method of registering by mail to vote. Registration forms shall include such matter as the coordinator of elections requires to ascertain the qualifications of an individual applying to register under this section and to prevent fraudulent registration.
    3. Registration notification forms advising the applicant of the acceptance or rejection of the applicant's registration shall be completed and mailed by the county election commission to the applicant. If any registration notification form is undeliverable, it shall not be forwarded to another address but shall be returned to the county election commission mailing the form. If any registration notification form is returned as undeliverable and indicates an acceptance of a voter's registration, the administrator of elections shall mail a forwardable confirmation notice to the registrant at the address of registration with a postage prepaid, pre-addressed return form on which the voter may verify or correct the address information. Upon the mailing of the confirmation notice, the administrator of elections shall place the registration in inactive status pursuant to § 2-2-106(d).
    4. The coordinator of elections or any county election commission is authorized to enter into agreements with the postal service and with departments and agencies of the federal government or appropriate state or local agencies, for the distribution of the registration forms, or to arrange for the distribution of such forms so as to effectuate the purpose of this section.
    5. Whenever a state or county official has reason to believe that individuals who are not qualified voters are attempting to register to vote under this chapter, such official shall notify the coordinator of elections and request the assistance of the coordinator of elections to prevent the fraudulent registration. The coordinator of elections shall give such reasonable and expeditious assistance as the coordinator deems appropriate in such cases.
    6. If a state or county official determines that there is a pattern of fraudulent registration, or any activities on the part of any individuals to vote who are not qualified voters, the coordinator of elections shall request the district attorney general within whose district these actions may occur, to bring action under this section. The district attorney general shall bring civil action in any appropriate court in Tennessee to secure an order to prevent fraudulent registration.
      1. Each person who registers by mail shall appear in person to vote in the first election the person votes in after such registration becomes effective. Before voting at the appropriate polling place or election commission office, such person shall present satisfactory proof of identity.
      2. The requirement to appear in person to vote in the first election shall not apply to:
        1. A person who is on the permanent absentee voting register; or
        2. A person who is in the address confidentiality program under title 40, chapter 38, part 6.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 308, § 1; 1977, ch. 218, §§ 1, 2; 1978, ch. 508, § 1; 1978, ch. 941, § 2; 1979, ch. 302, §§ 1, 2; 1979, ch. 306, §§ 11, 21; T.C.A., § 2-215; Acts 1980, ch. 580, § 1; 1980, ch. 638, § 7; 1981, ch. 478, § 6; 1983, ch. 157, §§ 1, 2; 1983, ch. 413, § 1; 1989, ch. 274, § 1; 1991, ch. 34, § 1; 1993, ch. 379, § 1; 1994, ch. 859, § 12; 1994, ch. 919, §§ 7-12, 33; 2000, ch. 756, § 2; 2011, ch. 412, § 1; 2018, ch. 1004, § 2.

Compiler's Notes.  Acts 2018, ch. 1004, § 4 provided that the secretary of state is authorized to promulgate rules in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, to implement the provisions of this act.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment, effective March 1, 2019, added (b)(7)(B); in present (b)(7)(A), substituted “. Before” for “; before” following “effective” and deleted the former last sentence which read: “This subdivision (b)(7) does not apply to a person who is on the permanent absentee voting register.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 1004, § 5. March 1, 2019; provided, that for the purpose of promulgating rules, the act took effect on May 21, 2018.

Cross-References. Early voting, title 2, ch. 6, part 1.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

2-2-116. Registration form.

The permanent registration record shall be substantially as follows, shall contain all the information required before being signed by the registrant, and shall be witnessed as indicated on the form.

PERMANENT REGISTRATION RECORD

1.

Last Name    First Name     Middle Name      Sex

2.  Legal Residence

Number     Street or Road       Apt.

3.  City  County

4.  Mailing Address if different from Legal Residence.

5.  Social Security number, if any

6.  Date and place of birth

7.  Are you a citizen of the United States?

8.  Where were you last registered to vote?  City  County  State

9.  Are you a resident of the State of Tennessee?

10.  Have you ever been convicted of a crime which is a felony in this state, by a court in this state, a court in another state, or a federal court?

11.   If the answer to question ten (10) is “yes,” list the crime, or crimes, for which you were convicted, and date, or dates, of conviction.

12.  If the answer to question ten (10) is “yes,” have you received a pardon or had your full rights of citizenship restored by a court for all crimes listed?

State of Tennessee

ss

County of

I, being duly sworn on oath (or affirmation) declare that the above address is my legal residence and that I plan to remain at such residence for an undetermined period of time and say that to the best of my knowledge and belief all of the foregoing statements made by me are true.

Signature of Applicant

If the registrant signs by a mark, or cannot sign at all, fill in the following information:

Sworn to and subscribed to before me

this  day of  , 20  ,

Signature of Administrator of Elections or

other person taking affidavit

Official Position

Registered as voter in District  Ward

Precinct  effective  .

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 941, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-216; Acts 1981, ch. 337, § 1; 1981, ch. 345, § 5; 1989, ch. 274, § 2; 1994, ch. 919, §§ 13-15; 2001, ch. 413, § 12; 2002, ch. 698, § 4; 2008, ch. 928, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Acts purging registration, § 2-2-106.

Duties of election coordinator, § 2-11-202.

Judgment of infamy, § 40-20-112.

Notice of infamy, § 40-20-113.

Qualified voters, § 2-2-102.

Restoration of suffrage, §§ 2-2-139, 40-29-101.

Suffrage for persons convicted of infamous crimes, § 2-19-143.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

2. —Disclosure of Social Security Number.

The Tennessee coordinator of elections and secretary of state interpret this section to require that citizens disclose their social security number as a pre-condition to voter registration. This requirement does not infringe upon the first amendment right to free exercise of religion because a state law that is rationally related to a legitimate state purpose will be upheld against a free exercise claim, even in a “hybrid” situation involving other fundamental rights such as voting, so long as the law is generally applicable, not aimed at particular religious practices and free of a system of particularized exceptions. McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 2000 FED App. 329P, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 23387 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 906, 121 S. Ct. 1230, 149 L. Ed. 2d 139, 2001 U.S. LEXIS 2020 (2001).

Election officials' enforcement of the requirement of T.C.A. § 2-2-116 that citizens disclose their social security number as a pre-condition to voter registration did not discriminate against plaintiff in violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution because everyone, whether a state citizen or not, is required to comply with the voter registration laws in order to vote in Tennessee. McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 2000 FED App. 329P, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 23387 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 906, 121 S. Ct. 1230, 149 L. Ed. 2d 139, 2001 U.S. LEXIS 2020 (2001).

3. —National Voter Registration Act.

The requirement of T.C.A. § 2-2-116 that citizens disclose their social security number as a pre-condition to voter registration does not violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq.) because the NVRA does not specifically forbid use of social security numbers. McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 2000 FED App. 329P, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 23387 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 906, 121 S. Ct. 1230, 149 L. Ed. 2d 139, 2001 U.S. LEXIS 2020 (2001).

Collateral References.

Information as to age, sex, residence, etc., as a condition of registration, validity of statute requiring. 14 A.L.R. 260.

Validity of statute requiring proof and disclosure of information as condition of registration to vote. 48 A.L.R.6th 181.

2-2-117. Voting record form.

  1. On the back of each registration form (or on a separate form if an alternate electronic registration system is used), there shall be printed a ten-year voting record form substantially as follows:

    VOTING RECORDName of Voter

    YEAR  PARTY General    Primary    Other

    Election    Election    Elections

    Ballot No. or  Ballot No. or  Ballot No. or

    Ballot     Ballot     Ballot

    Application   Application   Application

    Number    Number    Number

    1971

    1972

    Continued for

    remainder of

    ten (10) years

  2. The year dates printed in the first column shall be changed with each year's printing of the form.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-217; Acts 1984, ch. 935, §§ 1, 6; 1989, ch. 590, § 1; 1994, ch. 919, § 16.

2-2-118. Filling out of permanent registration record — Change of registration or name.

  1. If a person registers to vote in the election commission office, the commission employee who assists the person in registering shall fill out the permanent registration record except for the person's signature or mark.
  2. When any person changes one's registration from postcard to in-person, the record from the old form may be transferred onto the new form, and the new form may indicate the date of transfer upon request of the registrant.
  3. Except as provided in subsection (d):
    1. When a person changes one's name for any reason on the registration form, the record from the old form may be transferred onto the new form, and the new form may indicate the date of transfer upon request of the registrant; and
    2. If a person changes one's name because of a change in marital status, the person may use either the old name or the new name. If the person wishes to have one's new name reflected on the registration form, the person shall so request the administrator of elections or a designated employee.
  4. In any county having a population of not less than eight hundred twenty-five thousand (825,000) nor more than eight hundred thirty thousand (830,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, when a person changes one's name on one's registration form, the record from the old form may be transferred onto the new form, and the new form may indicate the date of transfer upon request of the registrant.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 308, § 6; T.C.A., § 2-218; Acts 1981, ch. 460, § 1; 1990, ch. 628, § 1; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 20, 21; 1994, ch. 919, § 17.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-2-119. Disabled registrant — Inability to write signature or make mark.

If a registrant's disability prevents the registrant from writing a signature or making a mark, the person who assists the registrant shall write the name for the registrant. Such person shall indicate this action by signing such person's name immediately after the space for the registrant's signature or mark.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-219; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 18.

2-2-120. Determination of registrant's right to register — Declaration as a registered voter.

  1. The administrator of elections shall determine, from the registrant's answers to the questions on the permanent registration record and other questions, if necessary, whether the registrant is entitled to register. If the administrator determines that the registrant is entitled to register, the administrator shall declare the registrant a registered voter.
  2. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no voter shall be purged due to a deficient registration form once the administrator has declared the person a registered voter under subsection (a) unless the administrator later determines the voter knowingly made or consented to false information being placed on the registration form or failed to provide a valid signature.
    1. At least quarterly, during a county election commission meeting, a county election commission member of the majority and the minority party shall inspect random voter registration forms accepted by the county election commission since the previous inspection. If a deficiency is found, the deficiency shall be recorded and a written report shall be prepared including the name of the administrator at the time the voter registration form was filed, the nature of the deficiency, and whether the individual has voted since the deficient form was filed and accepted. Such report shall be filed with the state coordinator of elections. If no deficiencies are identified, the coordinator of elections shall be notified in writing of the finding. The commission members who inspect the voter registration forms shall sign and date the report.
    2. If a significant number of deficient voter registration forms are discovered, then the administrator of elections may be subject to discipline by the state election commission or be terminated by the county election commission.
    3. The coordinator of elections is authorized to develop a policy to implement this subsection (c).
    4. The coordinator of elections shall audit at least ten (10) county election commissions annually to ensure that all required information fields on the permanent registration forms are being completed with minimal errors and that voters with deficient registrations are being given the opportunity to correct incorrect or omitted information.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-220; Acts 2010, ch. 906, § 1; 2011, ch. 181, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

For the Preamble to the act concerning deficient voter registration forms, please refer to Acts 2010, ch. 906.

2-2-121. [Repealed.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-2-121 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-221), concerning determination of residence and cancellation of registration, was repealed by Acts 1981, ch. 337, § 2. For factors in determining residence, see § 2-2-122; for cancellation of registration, see § 2-2-123; for rejection of registration, see § 2-2-125.

2-2-122. Principles for determination of residence — Factors involved.

  1. The determination of whether a person is a resident or where the person resides or has residence for purposes of the election code shall be made in the light of the following principles:
    1. The residence of a person is that place in which the person's habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever the person is absent, the person has a definite intention to return; provided, that a person may not register to vote using a business location as the registration address when the sole basis for the person's presence at such location is based on a business or commercial use;
    2. A change of residence is generally made only by the act of removal joined with the intent to remain in another place. There can be only one (1) residence;
    3. A person does not become a resident of a place solely by intending to make it the person's residence. There must be appropriate action consistent with the intention;
    4. A person does not lose residence if, with the definite intention of returning, the person leaves home and goes to another country, state or place within this state for temporary purposes, even if of one or more years duration;
    5. The place where a married person's spouse and family have their habitation is presumed to be the person's place of residence, but a married person who takes up or continues abode with the intention of remaining at a place other than where the person's family resides is a resident where the person abides;
    6. A person may be a resident of a place regardless of the nature of the person's habitation, whether house or apartment, mobile home or public institution, owned or rented; however, a commercial address may not be used for residential purposes, unless the applicant provides evidence of such applicant's residential use of such address;
    7. A person does not gain or lose residence solely by reason of the person's presence or absence while employed in the service of the United States or of this state, or while a student at an institution of learning, or while kept in an institution at public expense, or while confined in a public prison or while living on a military reservation; and
    8. No member of the armed forces of the United States, or such member's spouse or dependent, is a resident of this state solely by reason of being stationed in this state.
    1. The following factors, among other relevant matters, may be considered in the determination of where a person is a resident:
      1. The person's possession, acquisition or surrender of inhabitable property;
      2. Location of the person's occupation;
      3. Place of licensing or registration of the person's personal property;
      4. Place of payment of taxes which are governed by residence;
      5. Purpose of the person's presence in a particular place; and
      6. Place of the person's licensing for activities such as driving.
    2. In determining the residency of a person involuntarily confined in a state institution, the mere anticipation of a future grant of living quarters in a specific half-way house shall not be sufficient to establish intent to reside in such half-way house following release from the institution.
    1. Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter to the contrary, whenever county boundary lines cross through a farm being operated as a single unit, leaving such farm in two (2) separate counties, persons residing on such farms may make a one-time election to register to vote in either county. The administrator of elections shall place a person who chooses to register in the county which adjoins the physical location of the person's residence in the precinct where the property in the adjoining county is located.
    2. For the purpose of this subsection (c), “farm” means a tract of land of at least fifteen (15) acres constituting a farm unit engaged in the production of growing crops, plants, animals, nursery or floral products. Such farm shall produce gross agricultural income averaging at least one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) per year over a three-year period.
    1. Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter to the contrary, a person shall be eligible to register to vote in the county where the person pays property taxes on the person's primary residence even though the property is partially or totally located in another county, but the only access to the property is through the county where the person pays property taxes. Any person residing at such property shall make a one-time election to register to vote in either the county where the property taxes are paid or the county where the property is located.
    2. The county election commission may require the person to provide written documentation that the person pays property tax in the county if a person chooses to register in the county where the property taxes are paid.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 327, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-222; Acts 1989, ch. 590, § 11; 1994, ch. 859, § 13; 1994, ch. 919, § 19; 2005, ch. 163, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 939, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Law Reviews.

The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College, 54 Vand. L. Rev. 2099 (2001).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1 Residency Not Shown.

1 Residency Not Shown.

Although a candidate filed a nominating petition with the Knox County Election Commission, a trial court properly determined the candidate did not meet the residency requirement in Knox County for qualification under Tenn. Const. art. II, § 9 and T.C.A. § 2-2-122 because the candidate's deed placed her house in Anderson County, three governmental maps placed the house in Anderson County, the candidate paid real property taxes solely to Anderson County, and, as such, the candidate was a “resident” of Anderson County. Knox County Election Comm'n v. Breeding, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 380 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 14, 2012), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. LEXIS 446 (Tenn. June 19, 2012).

Collateral References.

Residence, validity of requirement that candidate or public officer has been resident of governmental unit for specific period. 65 A.L.R.3d 1048.

2-2-123. Cancellation of previous registration.

If a registrant was previously registered in any other place, the registrant's application to register shall serve as a cancellation of registration for the last place of registration. Upon registration of the voter, the administrator of elections shall mail a copy of the new registration to the county election commission where the voter was last registered or otherwise notify such county election commission of the new registration.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-223; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 20.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Notice of cancellation attached to records, § 2-2-134.

2-2-124. Registration card.

  1. After determining that the registrant is entitled to register, the administrator of elections shall give or mail to each voter who is registered permanently a registration card which shall certify that the voter is registered. The voter shall sign the card in the presence of the administrator except for mail registrants or transferors.
  2. The card shall be in substantially the following form on material on which any alteration of the card or of the voter's signature will be readily apparent:

    REGISTRATION CARDThis is to certify that Mr.           Mrs.           Missof  voting precinct  ward  City  County Tennessee, was duly registered on the  day of  , 20  . Residence  and is entitled to vote on and after  .    Administrator of Elections        Voter's Signature

  3. On the reverse side of the card shall be printed the reasons for which the registration will be purged and how registration may be transferred to prevent purging.
  4. Registered voters determined by the administrator of elections to be blind so as to qualify for assistance in voting as provided by § 2-7-116(b) shall be provided a permanent registration card, on the reverse side of which shall be printed the provisions for assistance available to such voters under § 2-7-116(b).
  5. Under no circumstances shall a social security number be printed on a voter registration card or used as an identifying number on a voter registration card.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 5, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-224; Acts 2001, ch. 413, § 3; 2008, ch. 635, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Acts 2008, ch. 635, § 2 provided that the act, which added (e), shall apply only to voter registration cards issued or reissued on or after March 18, 2008.

2-2-125. Rejected registration — Right to appeal — Reports of violations.

  1. If the administrator of elections determines that the registrant is not entitled to be registered, the administrator shall tell the registrant the reason, write the reason on the back of the original permanent registration record, and file the original and the duplicate alphabetically in a binder of rejected registrations.
  2. The administrator shall tell the registrant that the registrant has a right to appeal the decision to the commission within ten (10) days and offer the registrant an appeal form.
  3. The action of the commission on the registrant's application for registration on appeal shall be a final administrative action.
  4. If the commission determines, after notice and hearing for the appellant, that the appellant was not entitled to register, the commission shall give the appellant a written statement of its reasons for so holding.
  5. If the commission believes that the appellant has violated the law in registering, it shall report the matter to the grand jury and the district attorney general.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-225.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Duties.

Defendants in this action had no ministerial duty to restore plaintiff's right to vote; their duty was to verify his eligibility to apply for a voter registration card. O'Neal v. Goins, — S.W.3d —, 2016 Tenn. App. LEXIS 549 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 29, 2016).

2. Authority.

By necessary implication, a county election commission had the authority under Tennessee's election statutes to hold a quasi-judicial hearing to make a factual determination to resolve a voter's complaint challenging a judicial candidate's residency. McFarland v. Pemberton, 530 S.W.3d 76, 2017 Tenn. LEXIS 561 (Tenn. Sept. 20, 2017).

2-2-126. Keeping of original and duplicate registration records.

  1. Once the person is registered, the administrator of elections shall file the original permanent registration record alphabetically in the master file of all the registered voters in the county.
  2. The coordinator of elections shall devise a method to be followed for the filing and preservation of postal card registrations and computerized duplicate registration records in any county utilizing a computerized voter registration system.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 308, § 7; T.C.A., § 2-226; Acts 1984, ch. 935, §§ 2, 6; 1989, ch. 590, § 2; 2008, ch. 928, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

2-2-127. Permanent registration records open to inspection — Social security number redaction and use.

  1. Permanent registration records as public records shall be kept in a safe place by the commission, shall be available for public inspection, and may not be removed from the office of the commission except as required for the performance of duties under this title or in compliance with court orders; provided, that a registrar shall make a reasonable effort to redact a person's social security number from a record before such record is made available to any person other than the holder of the number if such record is stored in a computer readable format on April 12, 1999. When such records are first stored in computer readable format or when changes are made to any computer program that stores or accesses records, a registrar shall redact a person's social security number from a record before such record is made available to any person other than the holder of the number. The coordinator of elections shall also redact the social security number before making any voter registration records available to the public.
  2. Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to prohibit an agency of a state, county, or municipal office from using a person's social security number for internal purposes or to prohibit a county election commission and its staff from using a person's social security number for enforcement of the election law as provided in this title, and nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit the public's access to that record.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-227; Acts 1999, ch. 88, §§ 1, 2.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

2-2-128. Forms — Retention in commission's office.

Permanent registration record forms and registration card forms may not be removed from the commission office except for the performance of duties under this title.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-228.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

2-2-129. Transfer of registration — Procedure.

  1. A voter may transfer registration when such voter moves outside the precinct in which such voter is registered as follows:
      1. If a voter has moved within the same county, the voter may transfer the registration either in person, by mail, facsimile transmission or by e-mail with an attached document that includes a scanned signature. The voter may request a form which reads substantially as follows:

        I,  (Print name) , request that you change my address on permanent registration records, shown on the enclosed registration card as  (Old Address)  to  (New Address) (Signature) Date  .

        Click to view form.

      2. If a voter does not use the form, the voter shall include in the request for transfer all of the information required by this subdivision (a)(1);
    1. If the voter moves outside the county, the voter may transfer by registering in the county of the voter's new residence; and
    2. To provide an additional means of initiating and effecting transfers of voter registration within the county of current registration, the commission shall provide the officer of elections at each polling place and the officials at each early voting site with the proper affidavits. Voters who have moved within the county of registration may vote under the provisions described in § 2-7-140 and simultaneously transfer their registration. The written affidavit completed by the voter shall serve as a transfer of registration form for the voter. The election commission shall also make available transfer of address forms for voters who may anticipate a move in the future.
  2. A county election commission may transfer registration when a voter moves outside the precinct in which such voter is registered as follows:
    1. If the county election commission uses change of address information supplied by the postal service to identify registered voters whose addresses may have changed; and
    2. If it appears from information provided by the postal service that:
      1. A registered voter has moved to a different address of residence within the same county, the administrator may change the registration records to show the new address and send the registered voter a forwardable audit notice of the change using the new address and a postage prepaid pre-addressed return form by which the voter may verify or correct the address information; or
      2. A registered voter has moved to an address of residence in a different county or moved without filing a change of address with the postal service, the administrator of elections may mail a forwardable confirmation notice to the registered voter pursuant to the procedures provided in § 2-2-106(c) and (d).
  3. If the voter returns the form or otherwise notifies the election commission in writing and indicates the address information provided by the postal service is incorrect, the voter's registration shall be updated to reflect the correct address of residence.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 365, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-229; Acts 1994, ch. 919, §§ 21-25; 1997, ch. 550, § 4; 1999, ch. 499, § 1; 2009, ch. 218, § 1; 2012, ch. 1101, § 1.

Cross-References. Procedures for certain active voters, § 2-7-141.

2-2-130. Transfer of registration — New registration card.

The administrator of elections, after transferring a registration, shall immediately give or mail to the voter a new registration card unless the transfer is accomplished through § 2-7-140. If the registration is transferred as a result of § 2-7-140, the administrator shall not provide the voter with a new registration card until after the completion of the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-230; Acts 1997, ch. 550, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-2-131. Replacement registration cards — Correction of errors in registration records.

  1. If a voter states in writing that the voter has lost the registration card, the commission shall replace the registration card. A card issued to replace another shall be marked “Replacement Registration Card.” The permanent registration records shall show that the replacement was issued.
  2. The commission may correct any errors in registration records which are apparent on the face of the records or which are called to its attention by the voter whose record is incorrect.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-231; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 26.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 6.

2-2-132. Purging of permanent registration records.

The commission shall, not less than ninety (90) days before the regular August election, purge the permanent registration records of those persons whose registrations are required to be purged by § 2-2-106.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-232; Acts 1983, ch. 450, § 2; 1984, ch. 878, § 1; 1990, ch. 628, § 2; 2003, ch. 307, § 5.

2-2-133. Report to coordinator of elections of deaths in state — Notification of county commissions — Information from social security administration death master file — Cancellation of registrations — Purge of records.

    1. The state office of vital records of the department of health shall furnish the coordinator of elections a monthly, or more frequent, report, as required for compliance with the provisions of this section, of all persons eighteen (18) years of age or over who have died in the state. The report shall list the deaths by county with the names in alphabetical order. The report shall contain each decedent's full name, last address, date and place of birth, and social security number.
    2. The coordinator of elections shall, after receipt of the report, notify each county election commission of all persons of voting age who died with an address in their county.
  1. The coordinator of elections shall annually obtain information regarding Tennessee residents eighteen (18) years of age or over identified as deceased by the federal social security administration death master file. The coordinator of elections shall, after obtaining the information, notify each county election commission of all persons of voting age who are listed as deceased with an address in their county.
  2. The county election commission shall cancel the registration of each deceased person listed under the reports in subsection (a) or (b), in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
  3. In accordance with § 2-2-106(a)(3), each county election commission shall purge voting registration records of all deceased registered voters appearing on the report transmitted by the coordinator of elections at least every thirty (30) calendar days, and, beginning with the first day of any period of early voting, daily through the day of the election as such information is transmitted from the coordinator of elections.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1977, ch. 128, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-233; Acts 2006, ch. 578, §§ 1, 2; 2006, ch. 965, § 4.

Amendments. The 2006 amendment by ch. 578 substituted “monthly, or more frequent, report, as required for compliance with the provisions of this section” for “monthly report” in (a)(1); and added (d).

The 2006 amendment by ch. 965 redesignated former (a) as (a)(1); redesignated former (b) as (a)(2); and added present (b) and (c).

Effective Dates. Acts 2006, ch. 578, § 3. May 4, 2006.

Acts 2006, ch. 965, § 5. June 27, 2006.

Cross-References. Vital records, title 68, ch. 3.

2-2-134. Notice of cancellation attached to registration records — Cancelled registrations — Rejected ballots.

  1. When an administrator of elections receives the notice provided by § 2-2-123, the administrator shall immediately attach the notice to the permanent registration records of the voter.
  2. When a voter requests cancellation of registration, or the voter's registration is purged, the administrator shall cancel the registration by writing on the face of the permanent registration record of the voter

    “Registration terminated this  because

    The cancellation shall be signed by the administrator.

  3. The permanent registration records of the voter shall be placed in an alphabetically arranged file of purged registrations which shall be a public record. The file of purged registrations shall be retained by the county election commission for two (2) years from the date of the purge, after which time it may be destroyed by the county election commission.
  4. Upon purging a registration record, the administrator shall determine whether the voter has an outstanding or uncounted absentee ballot. If the voter has an outstanding ballot, it shall be marked “Rejected” on receipt. If the voter has an uncounted ballot already submitted, the administrator shall provide the commission with the voter's name and ballot number, and the voter's ballot shall be rejected and so marked on election day.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 7; T.C.A., § 2-234; Acts 1980, ch. 609, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-2-135. [Repealed.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-2-135 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-235), concerning precinct registrars acting jointly, was repealed by Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 27.

2-2-136. Forms and supplies.

  1. The coordinator of elections, at the expense of the state, shall provide the county election commissions with all forms necessary to carry out this chapter. The commissions shall be the custodians of the forms.
  2. A county election commission may use a form generated by the county with the approval of the state coordinator of elections.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 183, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-236; Acts 1994, ch. 919, § 28.

Compiler's Notes. This section may be affected by § 9-1-116, concerning entitlement to funds, absent appropriation.

2-2-137. Alternative electronic or microfilm registration system.

  1. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter to the contrary, a county election commission may adopt a supplemental system for maintaining registration records utilizing electronic, electromechanical or microfilm equipment. If the election commission exercises its option to scan or microfilm the original permanent record, the filmed or scanned record shall be the legal document of registration. If the election commission microfilms or scans the registration document, the original hard copy shall be retained, but may be retained at any location designated by the election commission.
  2. Beginning January 1, 2015, the coordinator of elections and the state election commission shall certify each voter registration system for purchase and use in the state. Subject to the concurrence of the state election commission, the coordinator of elections may make rules and policies as are necessary to carry out this subsection (b). In determining whether a voter registration system may be certified, the coordinator of elections and the state election commission shall consider, at a minimum, the following:
    1. The compatibility of the voter registration system with any statewide system being operated by the secretary of state's office;
    2. The history of ethical conduct in the sales of the voter registration system by the manufacturer or seller;
    3. The ability of the manufacturer or seller of the voter registration system to provide adequate professional assistance and service to the counties of the state; and
    4. The cyber security practices in place to protect the integrity of the voter registration process.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1976, ch. 464, § 1; 1977, ch. 231, § 1; 1977, ch. 410, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-237; Acts 1984, ch. 935, §§ 3, 6; 1994, ch. 919, §§ 29-31; 1997, ch. 558, § 30; 2008, ch. 928, §§ 4, 5; 2014, ch. 880, § 1; 2020, ch. 654, § 4.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment rewrote former (c), redesignated as present (b), which read: “The coordinator of elections in consultation with the state election commission shall determine whether a supplemental system meets the requirements of this section and whether such system is compatible with any statewide system being operated by the secretary of state's office. The coordinator of elections shall establish minimum requirements for certification that allow the county election commissions to perform the duties required by this title.”

The 2020 amendment added (b)(4).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 880, § 3. May 1, 2014.

Acts 2020, ch. 654, § 6. April 2, 2020.

2-2-138. Voter registration lists — Purchase by citizens.

  1. In counties of this state having a population in excess of one hundred eighty thousand (180,000) according to the United States census of 1970 or any subsequent United States census, or in any computerized county, it is the duty of the county election commission to prepare or cause to be prepared each month a listing, by voting precinct, of all persons registered to vote in each precinct during the preceding month. However, in the discretion of the commissioners of the county election commission, such listing may be prepared on a bimonthly basis.
    1. Such list, and any other voter registration information such as voter history, if compiled, shall be available for purchase for a price not to exceed the cost of production. This list shall be available to any person who certifies on a form provided by the state election commission that such list will be used for political purposes. The state election commission shall establish a uniform cost for this information. Any county election commission whose cost of production exceeds this rate may petition the state election commission and be granted an increase upon establishing its actual cost to the satisfaction of the state election commission. If the information is provided on computer generated media such as disk, diskette, tape, telecommunications or any other form of magnetic media, then the information shall be provided in non-proprietary and non-encrypted form. Minimum data standards shall be EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code), ASCII (American Standard Code Information Interchange) or BCD (Binary Coded Decimal).
    2. The list, and any other voter registration information, shall be the property of the county election commission and the state. Any vendor of the county election commission having access to the voter registration data shall only use such data to service the county election commission and shall be prohibited from using such data other than for purposes of assisting the county election commission and the coordinator of elections. Non-authorized use by the vendor of the data shall constitute a Class B misdemeanor and grounds for decertification by the state election commission.
  2. The county election commission in counties with a population over two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) according to the 1980 census shall make voter registration lists available for purchase by any interested citizen, upon request and payment of the cost, at a price not in excess of the cost to prepare and publish such lists. The county election commission in counties with a population over two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) according to the 1980 census shall act upon such request within seven (7) days of receipt of the request, and reasons for rejection or modification of such request, if any, shall be set out in writing.
    1. Any computerized county, as defined in § 2-1-104(a), shall make the list required by this section available on computer diskette to any person who certifies on a form provided by the state election commission that such list will be used for political purposes.
    2. A false certification made pursuant to the provisions of this subsection (d) is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500).
  3. Any list of registered voters compiled by the coordinator of elections shall be sold at a price established by the secretary of state. Any money received by the secretary of state from the sale of such lists shall be deposited in the voting machine loan fund established in § 2-9-114. This list shall be available for purchase to any person who certifies on a form provided by the state election commission that such list will be used for political purposes only.

Acts 1972, ch. 675, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-238; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 7; 1993, ch. 379, § 2; 1994, ch. 919, § 32; 1995, ch. 196, § 1; 2000, ch. 756, § 3; 2002, ch. 694, § 1; 2008, ch. 928, § 6; 2014, ch. 880, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment added (b)(2).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 880, § 3. May 1, 2014.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class B misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality, OAG 94-038 (3/21/94).

2-2-139. Restoration of suffrage to persons convicted of infamous crimes.

  1. Any person who has forfeited the right of suffrage because of conviction of an infamous crime may register to vote and vote at any election for which the person is eligible by submitting sufficient proof to the administrator of elections in the county in which the person is seeking to register to vote, that:
    1. The person has been pardoned of all infamous crimes and the person's full rights of citizenship, including the right of suffrage, have been restored;
    2. The person's full rights of citizenship have been restored as prescribed by law; or
    3. An appellate court of competent jurisdiction has entered a final judgment reversing the person's conviction, or convictions, of all infamous crimes.
  2. For purposes of this section, a pardon or a certified copy of a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction shall be sufficient proof to the administrator that the person fulfills the above requirements as to the offense or offenses specified on the pardon or judgment; however, before allowing a person convicted of an infamous crime to become a registered voter, it shall be the duty of the administrator in each county to verify with the state coordinator of elections that the person is eligible to register under the provisions of this section.
  3. The state election coordinator is empowered to formulate a uniform procedure for verifying the registration eligibility of any person convicted of an infamous crime. Upon receiving sufficient verification of such person's eligibility to register, the administrator shall allow such person to become a registered voter in the same manner and in accordance with the same laws, rules, or regulations as any other citizen of this state.
  4. The provisions of this section, relative to the forfeiture and restoration of the right of suffrage for those persons convicted of infamous crimes, shall also apply to those persons convicted of crimes prior to May 18, 1981, which are infamous crimes after May 18, 1981.

Acts 1981, ch. 345, §§ 3, 8.

Compiler's Notes. Portions of this section concerning retroactive disenfranchisement of convicted felons whose crimes were not infamous when convicted but were infamous after May 18, 1981, have been held unconstitutional. See Notes to Decisions, 1. Constitutionality. Gaskin v. Collins, 661 S.W.2d 865 (Tenn. 1983).

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Acts purging registration, § 2-2-106.

Duties of election coordinator, § 2-11-202.

Judgment of infamy, § 40-20-112.

Notice of infamy, § 40-20-113.

Qualified voters, § 2-2-102.

Registration information, § 2-2-116.

Suffrage for persons convicted of infamous crimes, § 2-19-143.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 6 Tenn. Juris., Citizenship, § 2.

Law Reviews.

Revisiting Wesley v. Collins and Tennessee's Disenfranchisement Statute (Vanessa M. Cross), 36 U. Mem. L. Rev. 543 (2006).

Felon Disenfranchisement, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1275 (Summer 2019).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Retroactive disenfranchisement of felons whose crimes were not infamous at time of conviction but were made infamous later when the scope of infamous crimes was expanded was unconstitutional and violated Tenn. Const., art. I, § 5. Gaskin v. Collins, 661 S.W.2d 865, 1983 Tenn. LEXIS 751 (Tenn. 1983).

Where homicide was not listed by former T.C.A. § 40-2712 (now T.C.A. § 40-20-112) as a crime of infamy at the time petitioner committed the offense of first degree murder in 1980, the trial court erred by applying a 1981 enactment to declare petitioner infamous under T.C.A. § 40-20-112 for having committed a felony; the retroactive application of the statute under T.C.A. § 2-2-139(b) and T.C.A. § 2-19-143(4) to deny petitioner's voting rights violated Tenn. Const. art. I, § 15. May v. Carlton, 245 S.W.3d 340, 2008 Tenn. LEXIS 10 (Tenn. Jan. 18, 2008).

2. Construction.

Under the statutes, after having one's rights of citizenship restored, the person must be deemed eligible to apply for a voter registration card, with the determination of eligibility to be made by the state election coordinator and communicated to the administrator of elections at the county election commission; in this case, there was no allegation that this procedure was not followed and plaintiff did not allege facts relative to any effort he made to apply for a voter card, and the complaint was insufficient to state a claim for relief. O'Neal v. Goins, — S.W.3d —, 2016 Tenn. App. LEXIS 549 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 29, 2016).

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of state criminal disenfranchisement provisions. 10 A.L.R.6th 31.

2-2-140. Duplicate voter registrations.

    1. The state coordinator of elections is encouraged to make every reasonable effort to enter into agreements with other states for the purpose of comparing data to identify duplicate voter registrations. If agreements are entered into with other states, upon finding any duplicate voter registrations, the state coordinator of elections shall make every effort to determine in which state the voter is rightfully entitled to vote.
    2. The state coordinator of elections shall promulgate rules and regulations for any agreements entered into that make provisions for security, maintenance of the integrity of Tennessee's voter information and a method to determine, verify and resolve duplicate voter registrations between the states. All such rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.
  1. The state coordinator of elections shall file a report with the state and local government committee of the senate and the state government committee of the house of representatives by January 15, 2009, and by January 15 in each year thereafter, regarding the status of any agreements entered into with other states, the progress or difficulties of reaching agreements with other states, and any other information the state coordinator of elections deems necessary to include in the report to keep the members of the general assembly apprised on this essential issue regarding the integrity of Tennessee's statewide voter registration database.

Acts 2008, ch. 895, § 1; 2013, ch. 236, § 65.

2-2-141. Proof of citizenship for registering to vote.

  1. The coordinator of elections shall compare the statewide voter registration database with the department of safety database to ensure non-United States citizens are not registered to vote in this state. The coordinator of elections is authorized to compare the statewide voter registration database with relevant federal and state agencies and county records for the same purpose. If evidence exists that a particular registered voter is not a citizen of the United States, the coordinator of elections shall notify the county election commission where the person registered to vote that the registered voter may not be a citizen of the United States.
  2. After receiving such notice, the county election commission shall send a notice to the registered voter inquiring whether the individual is eligible to be registered to vote. Any registered voter who receives the notice shall, within thirty (30) days of the receipt of such notice, provide proof of citizenship to the county election commission. For purposes of this subsection (b), proof of citizenship includes:
    1. The voter's birth certificate or a legible photocopy of the birth certificate;
    2. A United States passport, or a legible photocopy of the pertinent pages of the passport, identifying the voter and showing the passport number;
    3. The voter's United States naturalization documentation, a legible photocopy of the naturalization documentation, or the number of the voter's certificate of naturalization; except that any person who provides the number of the certificate of naturalization in lieu of the naturalization documentation shall not be deemed to have provided proof of citizenship until the coordinator of elections verifies the number with the United States citizenship and immigration services in the department of homeland security or its successor; or
    4. Any document or method of proof of citizenship established by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, P.L. 99-603, compiled in 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
  3. If the registered voter does not provide proof of citizenship within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the notification, the administrator of elections of the county where the person registered to vote shall purge the voter from the voter registration database.
  4. In the event a person is unable to provide any documentation included in subsection (b) to show proof of citizenship, the person may appeal to the state election commission and submit additional proof of citizenship in person or in writing. The state election commission shall conduct a hearing and make a finding concerning the individual's citizenship status and shall forward a copy of its decision to the administrator of elections of the county where the person resides. The voter registration database shall be changed by the administrator of elections to accurately reflect the decision of the state election commission with respect to such voter.
  5. All documentation provided to show proof of citizenship as well as the department of safety database or relevant federal and state agency and county records shall be confidential and shall not be available for inspection by the public.

Acts 2011, ch. 235, § 1.

Cross-References. Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

2-2-142. Training for individuals or organizations who conduct voter registration drives — Submission of voter registration forms — Restrictions regarding applicant’s personal information — Penalties.

  1. For the purposes of this section, the term “voter registration drive” means to collect voter registration applications from another person and submit the collected application to the county or state election commission for the purposes of registering that person to vote, but does not include state or county governmental entities operating in the course and scope of their official duties.
  2. The coordinator of elections shall offer free voluntary training to individuals or organizations who conduct voter registration drives. The training shall, at a minimum, summarize the laws and procedures regarding voter registration. A list of those individuals or organizations who complete the training may be published on the secretary of state's website or published by any other means deemed appropriate by the secretary of state.
  3. No person or organization shall employ or compensate any person, nor shall any person receive any wages or compensation for registering voters based on the number of voters registered. Nothing in this section prohibits a person from being paid on an hourly or salaried basis to register voters.
  4. No person or organization shall establish quotas or a minimum number of completed voter registration forms to be collected by individuals conducting a voter registration drive.
  5. Any person or organization collecting a voter registration form submitted by an applicant during a voter registration drive shall, within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the form, deliver or mail the form to the county election commission in which the applicant resides according to the address on the application or to the state election commission; provided, that if the date of the receipt of the form is within fifteen (15) calendar days of the voter registration deadline, the submitted forms must be delivered or mailed no later than the voter registration deadline. For the purposes of this subsection (e), a form shall be considered mailed on the date of the postmark stamped on the cover in which such document was mailed.
  6. Any person or organization other than a federal, state, or county governmental entity operating in the course and scope of its official duties who conducts a voter registration drive or operates an online voter registration platform is prohibited from copying, photographing, or in any way retaining, electronically or physically, personal identifying information collected on a voter registration application or entered into the online voter registration platform, including name, date and place of birth, residential address, mailing address, email, phone number, and signature for any purpose other than voter participation, voter engagement, or voter turnout unless the person or organization informs the applicant how the applicant's personal information will be used by the person or organization and the applicant expressly consents in writing or electronically. The social security number provided on the voter registration application or entered into the online voter registration platform is confidential and shall not be copied, photographed, or in any way retained, electronically or physically, by any person other than election officials in their official capacity.
    1. The state election commission may impose a maximum civil penalty up to fifty dollars ($50.00) for each violation of subsection (c), (d), (e), or (f).
    2. For any violation or violations, the state election commission shall send, by return mail, receipt requested, an assessment letter to the person or organization in a form sufficient to advise the person or organization of the factual basis of the violation or violations, the total civil penalty, and the date a response to the letter must be filed. Refusal of or failure to timely claim an assessment letter sent by return mail, receipt requested, constitutes acceptance of the assessment letter for purposes of service.
    3. To request a waiver of reduction in or to in any way contest a penalty imposed by the state election commission, a person or organization shall file a petition with the state election commission. Such petition may be considered as commencing a contested case proceeding under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.
  7. Any person or organization who provides or publishes erroneous or incorrect information regarding the qualifications to vote, the requirements to register to vote, whether an individual voter is currently registered to vote or eligible to register to vote, voter registration deadlines, or polling dates, times, and locations shall, upon discovery, immediately notify the appropriate county election commission and the coordinator of elections.
  8. The coordinator of elections and the state election commission are authorized to adopt policies or procedures and to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate this section.

Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 1; 2020, ch. 654, § 3.

Amendments. The 2020 amendment rewrote (a), (b), (e), (f) and (g), which read: “(a)  A person or organization who has not been designated by the county election commission under § 2-2-111 and who conducts a supplemental voter registration drive in which the person or organization attempts to collect voter registration applications of one hundred (100) or more people must comply with the following conditions:“(1) Prior to conducting a voter registration drive, the person or agent of an organization shall:“(A) Provide the coordinator of elections with the name, address, and contact phone number of the person conducting the voter registration drive or the names, addresses, and contact phone numbers of the officers of the organization conducting the voter registration drive;“(B) Provide the names of the county or counties in which the voter registration drives will be held;“(C) Complete training, which is administered by the coordinator of elections, on the laws and procedures governing the voter registration process;“(D) File a sworn statement stating that the person or organization shall obey all state laws and procedures regarding the registration of voters; and“(E) Ensure that individuals, whether volunteer or paid, who conduct voter registration drives for an organization have completed the training administered by the coordinator of elections; and“(2) The person or organization shall deliver or mail completed voter registration forms within ten (10) days of the date of the voter registration drive; provided, that if the date of the voter registration drive is within ten (10) days of the voter registration deadline, the completed forms must be delivered or mailed no later than the voter registration deadline.”;“(b) Any person or organization conducting a voter registration drive is prohibited from copying, photographing, or in any way retaining the voter information and data collected on the voter registration application, unless the applicant consents. However, the social security number provided on the voter registration application is confidential and must not be retained by any person other than election officials in their official capacity.”;“(e) The coordinator of elections may adopt policies or procedures to effectuate the provisions of this section, including, but not limited to, a form on which the required information may be provided and certified by interested parties. The form adopted by the coordinator of elections may be provided electronically. The coordinator of elections shall, at a minimum, offer the training online and shall not charge a fee for the training.”;“(f) Any person who intentionally or knowingly violates any provision of this section commits a Class A misdemeanor and each violation constitutes a separate offense.“(g) This section does not apply to individuals who are not paid to collect voter registration applications or to organizations that are not paid to collect voter registration applications and that use only unpaid volunteers to collect voter registration applications.”; and added (h) and (i).

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 9. October 1, 2019.

Acts 2020, ch. 654, § 6. April 2, 2020.

Cross-References. Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

False or misleading information regarding voting, § 2-19-133.

2-2-143. [Repealed.]

Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 2; repealed by Acts 2020, ch. 654, § 2, effective April 2, 2020.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-2-143, concerning the civil penalty for submission of incomplete voter registration applications, was repealed by Acts 2020, ch. 654, § 2, effective April 2, 2020.

Part 2
Registration by Other State Agencies

2-2-201. Voter registration applications through department of safety — Contents.

In addition to any other voter registration procedure provided for by law, the department of safety and each county election commission shall provide for voter registration procedures as follows:

  1. The department of safety shall include a voter registration application as part of any motor vehicle driver license application or photo identification license used in Tennessee. Except as provided in subdivision (2)(B), an individual who completes the application and is otherwise eligible shall be registered to vote in accordance with the information supplied by the individual;
  2. The voter registration section of the application:
    1. May require a second signature or other information that duplicates, or is in addition to, information in the license section of the application only if the duplicate or additional information is necessary for prevention of multiple registration of the same individual, for determination of eligibility to vote, or for administration of voter registration or other aspects of the election process;
    2. Shall include a box or other device to permit an applicant for a motor vehicle driver license or photo identification license to decline to register to vote;
    3. Shall include a statement that specifies each eligibility requirement for voting, contains an attestation that the applicant meets each such requirement, including citizenship, and requires the signature of the applicant, under penalty of perjury;
    4. Shall be made available by the department to the appropriate county election commission office; and
    5. Shall be processed as an in-person voter registration;
  3. No information relating to a declination under subdivision (2)(B) may be used for other than official election-related purposes;
  4. Any motor vehicle driver license or photo identification license form used for change of address of residence shall also serve as a notification of change of address of residence for voter registration;
  5. The motor vehicle driver license or photo identification license application and change of address forms used in this state shall be subject to approval by the secretary of state for purposes of voter registration under this section; and
  6. A completed voter registration or change of address of voter registration accepted at a motor vehicle office shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than ten (10) days after the date of acceptance; provided, that if the document is accepted within five (5) days before the last day for registration to vote in an election, the application shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than five (5) days after the date of acceptance.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 2; 2014, ch. 724, § 10.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment rewrote (2)(E) which read: “Shall be processed as a voter registration-by-mail form, in accordance with § 2-2-115”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Cross-References. Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

2-2-202. Voter registration through other state agencies.

In addition to any other voter registration procedure provided by law and by § 2-2-201:

  1. All offices in the state that provide public assistance;
  2. All offices in the state that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities; and
  3. Public libraries, public high schools, offices of county clerks and offices of county registers of deeds;

    shall serve as voter registration agencies. Those agencies designated under subdivision (2) that provide services to a person with a disability at the person's home shall provide the voter registration services at the person's home; provided, that a public library, a county clerk's office, or a county register of deeds office shall not serve as a voter registration agency if such office is located in the same building as the county election commission's office.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 3; 1997, ch. 501, § 1.

2-2-203. Prohibited acts by registering agencies — Penalty.

  1. A person who provides service described in § 2-2-202 shall not:
    1. Seek to influence an applicant's political preference or party registration;
    2. Display any such political preference or party allegiance; or
    3. Make any statement to an applicant or take any action, the purpose or effect of which is to discourage the applicant from registering to vote.
  2. A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

2-2-204. Registration procedures.

  1. A voter registration agency that is an office described in § 2-2-202(1) and (2) shall:
    1. Distribute with each application for such service or assistance, and with each recertification, renewal, or change of address form relating to such service or assistance, the voter registration-by-mail application form described in § 2-2-115, unless the applicant, in writing, declines to register to vote;
    2. To the greatest extent practicable, incorporate in that agency's application for services or assistance, recertification, renewal or change of address form, a means by which a person who completes the form may decline, in writing, to register to vote;
    3. Provide to each applicant who does not decline to register to vote the same degree of assistance with regard to the completion of the registration application form as is provided by the office with regard to the completion of its own forms; and
    4. Accept the completed voter registration forms for transmittal to the appropriate county election commission to be processed as a voter registration-by-mail form in accordance with § 2-2-115.
  2. A completed voter registration accepted at a voter registration agency described in this section shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than ten (10) days after the date of acceptance; provided, that if the document is accepted within five (5) days before the last day for registration to vote in an election, the application shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than five (5) days after the date of acceptance.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 5.

2-2-205. Registration procedures where agency does not require applications for its services.

  1. To the extent that a voter registration agency is an office, public library or high school described in § 2-2-202(3) and does not require or provide applications for its services, that office, public library or high school shall:
    1. Distribute or otherwise make available the voter registration-by-mail application form described in § 2-2-115 to those individuals whom the office, public library or high school serves;
    2. Provide the person the same degree of assistance with regard to the completion of the registration application form as is provided by the office, public library or high school with regard to the services offered by that office, public library or high school; and
    3. Accept the completed voter registration forms for transmittal to the appropriate county election commission to be processed as a voter registration-by-mail form in accordance with § 2-2-115.
  2. A completed voter registration accepted at a voter registration agency described in this section shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than ten (10) days after the date of acceptance; provided, that if the document is accepted within five (5) days before the last day for registration to vote in an election, the application shall be transmitted to the appropriate county election commission office not later than five (5) days after the date of acceptance.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 6; 1997, ch. 501, § 2.

2-2-206. Form for declining to register.

  1. The form by which a person may decline to register to vote that is required by § 2-2-204(a)(2) shall include the following:
    1. The question: “If you are not registered to vote where you live now, would you like to apply to register to vote here today?”;
    2. If the agency provides public assistance, the statement, “Applying to register or declining to register to vote will not affect the amount of assistance that you will be provided by this agency.”;
    3. Boxes for the applicant to check to indicate whether the applicant would like to register or declines to register to vote, together with the statement “IF YOU DO NOT CHECK EITHER BOX, YOU WILL BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE DECIDED NOT TO REGISTER TO VOTE AT THIS TIME.”;
    4. The statement, “If you would like help in filling out the voter registration application form, we will help you. The decision whether to seek or accept help is yours. You may fill out the application form in private.”; and
    5. The statement, “If you believe that someone has interfered with your right to register or to decline to register to vote or your right to privacy in deciding whether to register or in applying to register to vote, you may file a complaint with the coordinator of elections.” The statement shall also include the address and telephone number of the coordinator of elections.
  2. Each voter registration agency shall maintain the declinations completed by their clientele.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 7.

2-2-207. Rules and regulations.

The commissioner of safety in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, and the coordinator of elections in accordance with § 2-11-201(c), may promulgate rules to effectuate the provisions of this part and § 2-2-106.

Acts 1994, ch. 947, § 9.

Part 3
Statewide Voter Registration Database

2-2-301. Purpose.

The purpose of this part is to establish a statewide voter registration database maintained by the state coordinator of elections to comply with the Help America Vote Act.

Acts 2005, ch. 308, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. The Help America Vote Act of 2002, referred to in this section, is compiled generally in 42 U.S.C. §§ 15301 et seq.

2-2-302. Automated Electoral System (AES) designated as official list of registered voters.

As of January 1, 2006, the Automated Electoral System (AES) shall be the official list of registered voters in the state.

Acts 2005, ch. 308, § 1.

Law Reviews.

When Names Disappear: State Roll-Maintenance Practices, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1107 (Summer 2019).

2-2-303. Transfer of data from county election commission offices to the state coordinator of elections.

Data from county election commission offices shall be transferred to the state coordinator of elections via the Automated Electoral System (AES) not less than once daily.

Acts 2005, ch. 308, § 1.

Chapter 3
Place and Time of Elections

Part 1
Polling Places

2-3-101. Polling places — Designation — Relocation.

    1. All elections shall be held in polling places designated by the county election commission.
      1. Each polling place shall be in the precinct it is to serve except for municipal elections not held in conjunction with:
        1. Any primary election;
        2. The regular August or November general elections;
        3. Any special primary or special general election for state or federal offices; or
        4. The presidential preference primary.
      2. Where a municipal election is not held in conjunction with an election specified in subdivision (a)(2)(A) and if a polling place is located outside of the boundaries of a municipality but the precinct the polling place serves includes residents of the municipality, the county election commission may designate a polling place outside, but closest to the geographic precinct within the limits of the municipality, of the precinct it is to serve. The county election commission may, upon request from a municipality, consolidate one (1) or more polling places, from one (1) or more precincts, within the limits of the municipality.
      3. Immediately after the consolidation of one (1) or more polling places, from one (1) or more precincts within the limits of the municipality, the county election commission shall publish a notice of the consolidation in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. The county election commission shall mail to each active voter whose polling place is affected, a notice of the new polling place and the precinct number. The county election commission shall give written notification of the consolidation to the office of local government, comptroller of the treasury.
    2. If a county election commission determines that there is no place within a precinct which meets the requirements of this title for polling places, it shall designate the nearest available and suitable place no more than one half (½) mile from the precinct boundary as the polling place except in an emergency. If no accessible polling place is available within the precinct, or, within the one-half (½) mile limit outside the precinct, with the approval of the state coordinator of elections, the county election commission may designate a suitable place within three (3) miles.
    3. No polling place location may be changed within ten (10) days of an election except in an emergency.
    1. In any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population greater than one hundred thousand (100,000), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, if space is available, no more than one (1) polling place for a precinct may be located in the same room.
    2. At least thirty (30) days before a polling place is relocated, the county election commission shall mail a notice of intent to relocate to the elected officials representing the affected area. Such notice of intent shall be mailed to the candidates before the time the voters are notified of the change as provided in § 2-3-105. The provisions of this subdivision (b)(2) shall only apply to any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population greater than one hundred thousand (100,000), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census.
  1. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if a municipality is located within two (2) or more counties of the state, then the county election commissions of each respective county may, by written mutual agreement of the counties, designate one (1) polling place outside the boundaries of one (1) of the respective counties; provided, that the polling place is located within the limits of the municipality and within five hundred feet (500') of the county boundary line. Voters residing within the precinct are authorized to vote at the polling place established by the county election commissions in accordance with this subsection (c).

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-301; Acts 1989, ch. 78, §§ 1, 2; 1997, ch. 558, § 6; 2012, ch. 995, § 1; 2014, ch. 488, §§ 1, 2; 2014, ch. 697, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Acts 2013, ch. 372, §§ 1, 2 purported to amend subsection (a) of  this section. However, it was determined that Senate Bill No. 1320 and House Bill 1208, assigned as Public Chapter No. 372, did not pass both houses in the same form, as required by Tenn. Const., art. II, § 18 and, therefore, the act was not codified. The section set out above does not reflect the amendments by that act.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment by ch. 488, in (a), redesignated the former introductory clause of (2) as present (2)(A), redesignated former (2)(B)-(D) as present (2)(A)(i)-(iv), rewrote and designated the continuation paragraph as present (2)(B), added (2)(C), and added “except in an emergency” at the end of the first sentence in (3).

The 2014 amendment by ch. 697 added (c).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 488, § 3. February 13, 2014.

Acts 2014, ch. 697, § 3. April 15, 2014.

Cross-References. Boundaries of voting precincts, § 3-1-103.

2-3-102. Precincts — Establishment, consolidation, or change of boundaries.

  1. No voting precinct shall be established, created, consolidated, divided, or the boundaries otherwise altered unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, by reason of an annexation or other change in the boundary of a county or municipality, or in accordance with subsection (b). Any precinct boundary that is altered in accordance with this subsection (a) shall coincide with a census block as designated by the United States census bureau in the latest federal decennial census.
  2. The county election commission may establish, consolidate, or change the boundaries of precincts whenever the public convenience or law requires it; provided, that if any precinct boundary is altered pursuant to this subsection (b) then all of the following conditions must be met:
    1. Any precinct boundary that is altered shall coincide with a census block as designated by the United States census bureau in the latest federal decennial census; and
    2. After December 31, 2018, all precinct boundaries within the jurisdiction of the county election commission that do not coincide with a census block as designated by the United States census bureau in the latest federal decennial census shall be altered so that the precinct boundaries do coincide with a census block as designated by the United States census bureau in the latest federal decennial census.
  3. Any county election commission that alters the boundaries of any voting precinct in accordance with this section shall send a map, or geographic information systems file, to the office of local government which clearly delineates the new boundaries of the voting precinct.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-302; Acts 1984, ch. 951, § 1; 1991, ch. 373, § 1; 1993, ch. 362, § 1; 1999, ch. 421, §§ 1-5; 2011, ch. 46, §§ 1-4; 2018, ch. 581, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1982, ch. 900, § 49 and ch. 944, § 4 each provide that notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, the county election commission shall make such changes in the boundaries of precincts as may be necessitated by those acts (which changed the description of several state representative districts described in § 3-1-103) prior to any election held after the effective dates (April 4, 1982 and May 19, 1982) of those acts.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment rewrote the section which read: “(a)(1)  After May 16, 1991, no voting precinct shall be established, created, consolidated, divided or the boundaries otherwise altered unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, by reason of an annexation or other change in the boundary of a county or municipality or in accordance with subdivision (a)(2). Any boundary which is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(1) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 1990 federal decennial census. After phase 2 maps for a county under the block boundary suggestion program of the bureau of the census for Census 2000 are submitted to the bureau of the census by the office of local government, any precinct boundary in such county which is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(1) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2000 federal decennial census. After March 1, 2011, any precinct boundary in such county that is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(1) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal, or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2010 federal decennial census.”(2)  The county election commission may establish, consolidate or change the boundaries of precincts whenever the public convenience or law requires it; provided, that if any precinct boundary is altered pursuant to this subdivision (a)(2) then all of the following conditions must be met:”(A)  Any boundary which is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(2)(A) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 1990 federal decennial census; provided, that after phase 2 maps for a county under the block boundary suggestion program of the bureau of the census for Census 2000 are submitted to the bureau of the census by the office of local government, any precinct boundary in such county which is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(2) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2000 federal decennial census; provided, further, that after March 1, 2011, any precinct boundary in such county that is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(2) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal, or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2010 federal decennial census; and”(B)  All precinct boundaries within the jurisdiction of such county election commission that do not coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 1990 federal decennial census shall be altered so that such boundaries do coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 1990 federal decennial census; provided, that after phase 2 maps for a county under the block boundary suggestion program of the bureau of the census for Census 2000 are submitted to the bureau of the census by the office of local government, any precinct boundary in such county which is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(2) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2000 federal decennial census; provided, further, that after March 1, 2011, any precinct boundary in such county that is altered in accordance with this subdivision (a)(2) shall coincide with a census block, tract, municipal, or county boundary as designated on United States bureau of the census maps prepared for the 2010 federal decennial census.“(3)  Any political subdivision which alters the boundaries of any voting precinct in accordance with this subsection (a) shall send a map to the office of local government and to the office of management information services for the general assembly, which map shall clearly show the new boundaries of such voting precinct.“(4)  All census descriptions, census delineations, census district lines and other census designations as used in this subsection (a) are those established for and by the United States bureau of the census for taking either the 1990, 2000 or 2010 federal decennial census in Tennessee.“(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a)(2) to the contrary, a precinct boundary established, consolidated or changed pursuant to subdivision (a)(2) may coincide with a line which divides a census block if:“(1)  The line splitting the census block was approved by the United States bureau of the census and population was allocated between the areas split by such line pursuant to the fee paid block split program of such bureau; and“(2)  In addition to the maps required to be submitted pursuant to subdivision (a)(3), the allocation of population for any split block is also sent to the office of local government and to the office of management information services for the general assembly.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 581, § 4. March 16, 2018.

Cross-References. Changes in state representative district precincts, § 3-1-103.

Law Reviews.

Local Government Law — 1961 Tennessee Survey (Eugene Puett), 14 Vand. L. Rev. 1335 (1961).

2-3-103. Maximum size of precincts.

Precincts where voting machines are used shall, whenever practicable, in the judgment of the county election commission, after taking into consideration all facts and circumstances, be limited in size to a maximum of six thousand (6,000) registered voters.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 413, § 1; 1974, ch. 676, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-303; Acts 1991, ch. 249, § 1; 1997, ch. 558, § 7; 2012, ch. 1101, § 2.

2-3-104. Ratio of number of voters to voting machines.

Where voting machines are used, there shall be, as nearly as practicable, no more than one thousand (1,000) registered voters per voting machine.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-304; Acts 1997, ch. 558, § 1; 2002, ch. 698, § 2; 2006, ch. 642, § 2.

2-3-105. Publication of changes in precinct boundaries — Notice to affected voters and office of local government.

Immediately after any alteration of precinct boundaries or change of district, the county election commission shall publish the changed boundaries in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. The county election commission shall mail to each active voter whose polling place is changed a notice of the voter's new polling place and precinct number. Furthermore, immediately after any alteration of precinct boundaries, the county election commission shall give written notification of such changes to the office of local government, comptroller of the treasury.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-305; Acts 1980, ch. 675, § 1; 2006, ch. 642, § 1; 2008, ch. 928, § 7.

Cross-References. Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 6, 11.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Purpose.

One purpose of this section is to put affected voters on constructive notice of changes in precinct boundaries. Taylor v. Armentrout, 632 S.W.2d 107, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 520 (Tenn. 1981).

2. Failure to Publish Changes.

Where the election commission did not follow the statutory provisions for publishing the changed boundaries and notifying voters whose polling places were changed, but instead, since the polling places were changed only for municipal elections, undertook to have each voter fill out a duplicate set of registration forms, and this procedure was not completed prior to the expiration of the regular registration period, and the commission concluded to permit the so-called “re-registration” of city voters to continue through the date of the election, with the result that a number of voters apparently were permitted to vote in the wrong precinct, and there were numerous other technical violations of the general election laws, nonetheless the violations were held to be minor in nature and not such as would render the ballots of the voters illegal or result in voiding the election. Lanier v. Revell, 605 S.W.2d 821, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 500 (Tenn. 1980).

2-3-106. Description of boundaries — Filing and recordation — Availability to general assembly.

  1. The boundaries of each precinct shall be described either by metes and bounds or by a map of sufficient detail to delineate the boundaries of the precinct. Copies of the maps shall be filed and recorded in the office of the clerk of the county legislative body and in the office of the coordinator of elections and shall be available for public inspection.
  2. Copies of the maps shall be made available by the coordinator of elections to members of the general assembly upon request and upon payment of the actual cost of reproduction of the same.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 155, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 2-306; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 8.

2-3-107. Polling places — Physical requirements — Use of public buildings — Rentals for private buildings.

  1. The county election commission shall designate as polling places only rooms which have adequate heat, light, space and other facilities, including a sufficient number of electrical outlets where voting machines are used, for the comfortable and orderly conduct of elections.
      1. The commission shall, insofar as practicable, arrange for the use of public schools and other public buildings for polling places on election day and during the early voting period.
        1. If the county election commission has arranged for the use of a public school or a public charter school as a polling place for a regular November election, as defined in § 2-1-104, then the LEA or the public charter school, respectively, shall be closed for instruction on the election day. The LEA or the public charter school may use the day as an in-service day for school personnel.
        2. An LEA or public charter school may choose to be open or closed for instruction on election days other than days on which a regular November election occurs. If an LEA or public charter school chooses to close on an election day, then the LEA or public charter school may use the day as an in-service day for school personnel.
        3. Before adopting a calendar for a school year, each LEA and public charter school shall consult with the county election commission as to the elections that are scheduled to be conducted during the school year for which the calendar is to be adopted.
    1. Upon application of the commission, the authority which has the control of any building or grounds supported by taxation under the laws of this state shall make available the necessary space for the purpose of holding elections and adequate space for the storage of voting machines without charge. A reasonable sum may be paid for necessary extra janitor service. If a state park is to be used as a voting location, the park must establish the site for the polling place at least one (1) year prior to the date of the election, and the location of the polling site within the park may not change without the consent of the county election committee.
  2. When polling places are established in private buildings, the commission may pay a reasonable rental.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-312; Acts 2001, ch. 413, § 6; 2013, ch. 231, § 3; 2018, ch. 867, § 1.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment, effective January 1, 2019, added (b)(1)(B).

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 867, § 2. January 1, 2019.

Cross-References.  Convenient voting centers, title 2, chapter 3, part 3.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Construction.

Plain language of T.C.A. § 2-3-107(a) gives the sole responsibility for designating polling places to the county election commissions; the wording of T.C.A. § 2-3-107(b)(2) that the authority which has control of the building shall make available the necessary space for the purpose of holding elections without charge is a clear and unambiguous statement of the role of the building authority under the election laws and a mandate to the authority to make public buildings which have been deemed suitable by the commission for holding elections available. Williamson County Election Comm'n v. Webb, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2013), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 693 (Tenn. Aug. 13, 2013).

2. County Election Commissions.

Trial court erred in granting the city's motion for summary judgment and in denying the county election commission's motion for summary judgment in the commission's action seeking a declaration of its rights under election statutes, T.C.A. § 2-3-101 et seq. and § 2-6-101 et seq., because the commission had the sole responsibility to designate polling locations, and it was the duty of public building authorities to make public buildings available for voting. Williamson County Election Comm'n v. Webb, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2013), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 693 (Tenn. Aug. 13, 2013).

3. Attorney Fees.

Trial court erred in denying a county election commission attorneys'  fees and costs because the commission's request to use a library building was denied, and it was appropriate for the commission to seek clarification of its responsibilities under election statutes, T.C.A. § 2-3-101 et seq. and § 2-6-101 et seq., as well as those of the city, for purposes of each performing its responsibilities in the future; accordingly, an award of attorneys'  fees pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-12-101(c)(4), was appropriate. Williamson County Election Comm'n v. Webb, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2013), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 693 (Tenn. Aug. 13, 2013).

2-3-108. Polling places — Tables and chairs for officials — Voting compartments — Supplies.

  1. The county election commission shall arrange for each polling place to have a sufficient number of tables and chairs for its election officials and poll watchers and voting compartments for the convenient use of voters in marking paper ballots.
    1. Each compartment shall be so arranged that it is impossible for any person to see a voter's ballot while it is being marked. The arrangement shall be such that neither the ballot boxes nor the voting compartments are hidden from the view of the election officials and poll watchers or those just outside a guard rail which may run in front of the ballot box.
    2. The number of such voting compartments shall not be less than three (3) for every one hundred (100) voters registered to vote at a polling place where voting machines are not used.
    1. One (1) voting compartment shall be provided at each polling place where voting machines are used.
    2. Each voting machine shall be so placed that it is accessible to only one (1) voter at a time and is in full view of all the election officials and watchers at the polling place.
  2. The county election commission shall provide for each polling place a sufficient supply of pencils, voting instructions, and boundary signs to be placed at the boundary provided in § 2-7-111. The flag of the United States shall be displayed outside of each polling place on election day. The county election commission shall ensure that such flag is available for each polling place.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-313; Acts 1987, ch. 362, § 3.

Cross-References. Ballots and supplies, title 2, ch. 5, part 2.

Desecration of venerate object, § 39-17-311.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. However, not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

If complaint had been properly drawn, the purging by the trial court of a specific number of paper ballots in a particular precinct might well have been appropriate. But in the complaint, the contestant failed to demonstrate that a purge of those ballots would have changed the result of the election or rendered its outcome uncertain. Therefore, the court had no choice but to conclude that the chancellor correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show, district-wide, that election was so permeated by fraud or illegality as to render the results incurably uncertain or to thwart the will of the electorate. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2-3-109. Voters with disabilities and elderly voters.

  1. Pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 98-435 of the 98th Congress, it is the legislative intent, by enactment of this legislation, to improve access for elderly voters and voters with disabilities to registration facilities and polling places.
  2. For the purposes of this section:
    1. “Elderly voter” means any voter sixty (60) years of age or older; and
    2. “Voter with a disability” or “voters with disabilities” means any person or persons whose disability meets the definition of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.
  3. Every building which houses a county election commission office shall be accessible to elderly voters and voters with disabilities by construction of ramps or other appropriate means.
    1. All voting precincts shall be made accessible to elderly voters and voters with disabilities, unless the state election commission and state election coordinator shall, in their sole discretion, determine that the precinct cannot reasonably be made accessible to the elderly voters and voters with disabilities.
    2. Each county election commission shall furnish to the coordinator of elections, at the coordinator of election's request, a listing setting forth which polling places in the county are accessible and which are not. If a building suitable for use as a polling place which is accessible is available, such building shall be designated as the polling place for that voting precinct.
    1. Not later than forty-five (45) days before any election, the county election commission shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation a notice advising any elderly voter or voter with a disability that if such voter's polling place is inaccessible, such voter has the right to vote early by absentee ballot or at the election commission office on election day.
      1. Elderly voters or voters with disabilities assigned to vote in precincts wherein the polling place is not accessible may vote at the election commission office on election day. Such voter shall complete an affidavit at the election commission office stating that such voter's designated voting location, to the best of the voter's knowledge, does not comply with Public Law 98-435 of the 98th Congress. The affidavit must be received by the county election commission not less than ten (10) days prior to the first election in which the elderly voter or voter with a disability plans to vote at the election commission office on election day. The election commission shall maintain a record of all affidavits completed pursuant to this subsection (e) and shall not require a voter to complete more than one (1) such affidavit unless the voter's precinct changes from the precinct cited in the affidavit on file. Upon receipt of such affidavit, the administrator of elections shall remove the voter's duplicate permanent registration card from the precinct binder and place the same in an alphabetical book to be used at the election office on election day. The election commission may allow persons voting hereunder to vote on paper ballot or on voting machines, in the discretion of the voting commission.
      2. As an alternative to voting at the election commission office on election day, an elderly voter or voter with a disability assigned to vote in a precinct where the polling place is inaccessible may vote by absentee ballot or during the early voting period subject to the provisions of § 2-2-115(b)(7).
        1. Each county election commission shall be responsible for notifying the officer of election on election day of any elderly voter or voter with a disability who votes at the election commission office.
        2. The state election coordinator shall ensure that each county election commission takes the necessary steps to notify the voting precinct of the elderly voter or voter with a disability of the filing of the voter's affidavit for future elections.
  4. The state election coordinator shall ensure that each county election commission takes the necessary steps and secures adequate facilities and supplies to carry out the requirements of this section.
  5. All the rights given and provisions made under this section are in addition to any voting rights or procedures which already are in existence relative to elderly voters or voters with disabilities, and no provision or part hereof shall be deemed to restrict or diminish any such rights or procedures.

Acts 1985, ch. 72, §§ 1-9; 1991, ch. 184, §§ 1, 2; 1994, ch. 859, § 7; 1996, ch. 617, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 756, §§ 4, 5; 2004, ch. 480, §§ 2, 3; 2007, ch. 48, §§ 1, 2; 2014, ch. 724, § 6.

Compiler's Notes. Public Law 98-435, referred to in this section, is known as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, and is codified as 42 U.S.C. 1973ee et seq.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment substituted “sixty (60) years of age” for “sixty-five (65) years of age” in (b)(1).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Cross-References. Early voting, title 2, ch. 6, part 1.

Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

2-3-110. Procedures when emergency necessitates change to polling place location within 10 days of election day.

  1. As used in this chapter, “emergency” means an occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, that results in a polling place being unavailable or unsuitable for voting. A natural threat includes disease, outbreaks, and epidemics.
  2. Notwithstanding anything in this chapter to the contrary, a county election commission shall use the following procedures when an emergency necessitates a change to a polling place location within ten (10) days of an election day:
    1. A county election commission shall not change a polling place without approval of the coordinator of elections;
    2. If no alternative suitable site is available within a precinct, the county election commission may create emergency supersites by moving a polling place that is unavailable or unsuitable due to an emergency to another polling place in the county. To the extent practicable, the county election commission should choose the nearest available and suitable polling place;
    3. The county election commission may designate the county election commission office or other centrally located site or sites for voting by any voter in the county;
    4. The county election commission shall provide notice of any changes as widely as possible under the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the media, county election commission website if the county maintains a website, secretary of state's website, and if possible, signage at each affected polling place.

Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 4.

Effective Dates. Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

Cross-References. Civil Defense and Disaster Compact, title 58, ch. 2, part 4.

Emergency management powers of the governor, § 58-2-107.

Part 2
Times of Elections

2-3-201. Hours of election.

  1. Polling places shall be open for voting for a minimum of ten (10) continuous hours but no more than thirteen (13) hours. All polling places in counties in the eastern time zone shall close at eight o'clock p.m. (8:00 p.m.) prevailing time and polling places in counties in the central time zone shall close at seven o'clock p.m. (7:00 p.m.) prevailing time.
    1. At least fifteen (15) days before the date of each election, the county election commission shall determine a uniform time for the opening of all polling places in the county.
      1. All polling places shall open at eight o'clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.) prevailing time in counties having a population according to the 1970 federal census or any subsequent federal census of:

        not less than  nor more than

        63,700 63,800

        28,200 28,300

        24,200 24,300

        23,475 23,500

      2. In any county having a population of not less than one hundred twenty thousand (120,000) according to the 1970 federal census or any subsequent federal census, all polling places shall open by eight o'clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.) prevailing time, but nothing shall prevent an earlier opening time in the discretion of the county election commission.
  2. In the case of municipal elections in a municipality having a population of not more than five thousand (5,000), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, where there is no opposition for any of the offices involved, the polling places shall open at the hour of ten o'clock a.m. (10:00 a.m.) and close at the hour of six o'clock p.m. (6:00 p.m.).

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-307; Acts 1980, ch. 649, §§ 4, 5; 1981, ch. 385, §§ 1, 2; 1982, ch. 665, § 1; 1999, ch. 197, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Cross-References. Failure to use standard time, § 4-1-401.

2-3-202. Judicial and county officers — Time for election.

Elections for the following offices shall be held at the regular August election when the election immediately precedes the commencement of a full term:

  1. Assessor of property;
  2. Constable;
  3. County clerk and clerks of the circuit and other courts;
  4. County trustee;
  5. District attorney general;
  6. Judges of all courts;
  7. Members of the county legislative body;
  8. Register; and
  9. Sheriff.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 934, § 28; T.C.A., § 2-308; Acts 1980, ch. 860, § 1; T.C.A. § 2-8-117.

Cross-References. Election of assessor of property, § 67-1-502.

Election of judges generally, Tenn. Const., art. VI, § 4; §§ 16-3-101, 17-1-103.

Election of judges of the court of criminal appeals, § 16-5-103.

Times of elections, Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 5.

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality of municipal charter amendment that extends term of elected officials, OAG 00-017 (2/8/00).

Collateral References.

Validity of public election as affected by fact that it was held at time other than that fixed by law. 121 A.L.R. 987.

2-3-203. General assembly members, congressional representatives, presidential electors, and governor — Time for election.

Elections for the following offices shall be held at the regular November election when the election immediately precedes the commencement of a full term:

  1. Representative in the general assembly;
  2. Representative in the United States congress;
  3. Senator in the general assembly;
  4. Senator in the United States senate;
  5. Governor; and
  6. Electors for president and vice president.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-309; Acts 1995, ch. 305, § 55.

Cross-References. Time of election of members of general assembly, Tenn. Const., art. II, § 7.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Federal Preemption.

Permitting voting prior to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November does not conflict with federal enactments because the final selection is not made before the federal election day; without the final selection, the winning candidate is not elected. Millsaps v. Thompson, 96 F. Supp. 2d 720, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5768 (E.D. Tenn. 2000), aff'd, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

Under the Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS), the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder occur only on federal election day as required by federal law. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

The Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS) presents no obstacle to accomplishing the goals of the federal election day statutes; Tennessee's effort to increase voter participation does not conflict with, and is therefore not preempted by, the federal laws designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

2-3-204. Elections on questions.

  1. Elections on questions submitted to the people shall be held on dates set by the county election commission but not less than seventy-five (75) days nor more than ninety (90) days after the county election commission is directed to hold the election under the law authorizing or requiring the election on the question. If the election is to be held in more than one (1) county, the county election commissions shall meet and set the date jointly.
  2. Resolutions, ordinances or petitions requiring the holding of elections on questions submitted to the people which are to be held with the regular August election, the regular November election, any regularly scheduled municipal election or the presidential preference primary shall be filed with the county election commission not less than seventy-five (75) days prior to such election.
  3. If the date for an election on a question, as set by a county election commission or by two (2) or more commissions jointly, falls within ninety (90) days of an upcoming regular primary or general election being held in the jurisdiction voting on the question, the commission or commissions may reset the date of the election on a question to coincide with the regular primary or general election, even though this may be outside of the time period established herein. All dates dependent on the date of the election shall be adjusted accordingly and any acts required to be done by these dates shall be performed timely if done in accordance with the adjusted dates.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-310; Acts 1980, ch. 649, § 1; 1981, ch. 478, § 9; 1997, ch. 558, § 2; 2000, ch. 756, § 6; 2014, ch. 724, § 11; 2016, ch. 827, §§ 4, 5.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment substituted “seventy-five (75) days” for “sixty (60) days” near the end of (b).

The 2016 amendment, in (a), substituted “seventy-five (75)” for “forty-five (45)” and “ninety (90)” for “sixty (60)”; and in (c), substituted “ninety (90)” for “thirty (30)”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Acts 2016, ch. 827, § 7. April 21, 2016.

Attorney General Opinions. Special elections on general obligation bonds for school purposes, OAG 99-034 (2/18/99).

2-3-205. All elections on same day to be held at same time and place.

All elections held on the same day in a county shall be held during the same hours and in the same polling places in the precincts where the elections are to be held.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-311.

2-3-206. Runoff following primary election for municipal office — Procedure for absentee voting required.

  1. Notwithstanding any provision of this title to the contrary, in any municipality in which the charter of such municipality provides for a runoff election following a primary election for municipal office, such runoff election may be held not less than thirty (30) days following the primary election.
  2. Notwithstanding any provision of this title to the contrary, the county election commission holding such runoff election shall provide a procedure for absentee voting in such election.
  3. Notwithstanding any private act or charter provision to the contrary, when a run-off election is scheduled to be held after a general election in any county having a metropolitan form of government, the run-off election shall be set by the election commission, not less than thirty (30) nor more than forty-five (45) days after the regular election.

Acts 1980, ch. 590, §§ 1, 2; 2007, ch. 124, § 1.

Cross-References. Absentee voting, title 2, ch. 6, part 2.

Part 3
Convenience Voting

2-3-301. Purpose of part — Pilot projects — Convenient voting centers.

  1. The purpose of this part is to create a pilot project to determine whether convenient voting centers could successfully be established for local and state elections to make it convenient for voters to vote at centralized voting areas on election day in the county in which the voter is registered, regardless of the voter's precinct.
  2. A county shall indicate its willingness to participate in such a pilot project by adopting a resolution by a super majority vote of its county election commission. A super majority of at least four (4) of the five (5) county election commissioners must approve their willingness to participate in the pilot program. The super majority vote shall also be required to establish the number and locations of convenient centers in each county. Unless four (4) out of five (5) county election commissioners vote in favor of participating in the pilot program and the number and location of the convenient voting centers, the voting precincts as described in §§ 2-3-102 and 2-3-103 must be utilized.
  3. Upon affirmative vote by the super majority vote of the county election commission, the commission shall submit to the coordinator of elections a project plan for the convenient voting centers. The coordinator of elections shall approve the project plan prior to the county election commission implementing the plan.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

2-3-302. Establishment of convenient voting centers.

  1. After the required approval of the project plan for the convenient voting centers, the county election commission may create a program that establishes convenient voting centers within the county pursuant to § 2-3-303 for local elections conducted in 2019, and for federal, state, and local elections held in 2020.
  2. If convenient voting centers are used in the election, the county election commission shall not be limited by the provisions set forth in § 2-3-101(a); provided, that no polling location may be changed within ten (10) days of an election except in an emergency.
  3. Each convenient voting center used in the pilot project shall have a secure electronic connection, certified by the coordinator of elections, to the computerized voter registration system maintained by the county election commission permitting all voting information processed by any computer at a convenient voting center to be immediately accessible to all other computers at all convenient voting centers in the county. The secure electronic connection shall be sufficient to prevent any voter from voting more than once and to prevent unauthorized access to the computerized voter registration system.
  4. Each convenient voting center shall meet applicable federal and state laws, including the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act (42 U.S.C. § 15301).
  5. Chapter 7 of this title applies to all convenient voting centers.
  6. This part applies only in counties having a population of not less than forty-four thousand five hundred (44,500) nor more than forty-four thousand six hundred (44,600), in counties having a population of not less than one hundred thirteen thousand nine hundred (113,900) nor more than one hundred fourteen thousand (114,000), and in counties having a population of not less than one hundred eighty-three thousand one hundred (183,100) nor more than one hundred eighty-three thousand two hundred (183,200), according to the 2010 federal census or any subsequent federal census.
  7. Prior to closing a polling location due to the opening or availability of a convenient voting center, the county election commission shall announce a thirty-day period in which the commission shall receive public comment from registered voters regarding the closing of the polling location.
  8. If a polling location is closed due to the opening of a convenient voting center, the county election commission shall endeavor to ensure that convenient voting centers are located in locations convenient to voters who had been assigned to the closed polling location.
  9. If a polling location is closed due to the opening of a convenient voting center, the county election commission shall post signage on election day, and during the early voting period if that polling location was used as an early voting center, in a conspicuous manner on or near the entrances to the closed polling location that states that the polling location is closed and that provides the address of each convenient voting center. The posting requirement must be met until after the next November statewide general election following the closure.

Acts  2016, ch. 768, § 1; 2019, ch. 445, §§ 1-3.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

For table of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment, in (a), substituted “After the required” for “Upon”, “may” for “shall”, and “local elections conducted in 2019, and for federal, state, and local elections held in 2020” for “local and state elections scheduled in 2018 after January 1, 2017”; and added (f)–(i).

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

Acts 2019, ch. 445, § 4. July 1, 2019.

2-3-303. Determination of number of convenient voting centers.

Taking into consideration all facts and circumstances, the county election commission that has a county participating in the pilot project shall determine the number of convenient voting centers to be used in the county election. For every ten thousand (10,000) registered voters, the county election commission shall locate at least one (1) convenient voting center; provided, that each county election commission shall locate at least two (2) convenient voting centers within a county. In determining the location of the convenient voting centers, the county election commission shall consider the density of the county population, the geographic dividers, and all other facts and circumstances that exist within the county.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

2-3-304. Publication of location of convenient voting centers — Notification to voters and government officials.

If the county election commission establishes convenient voting centers within a county pursuant to § 2-3-303, the county election commission shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation the location of the convenient voting centers not less than thirty (30) days before the election. The county election commission shall mail to each registered voter a notice containing a list of the convenient voting centers located within the county. If more than one (1) registered voter is at the same address, then only one (1) notice may be sent to that address. Furthermore, immediately after any establishment of a convenient voting center, the county election commission shall give written notification of the changes to the office of local government, the comptroller of the treasury, and the coordinator of elections.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

Cross-References. Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

2-3-305. Applicability of polling place requirements.

Section 2-3-107 shall apply to convenient voting centers.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

2-3-306. Voting period for convenient voting centers.

  1. Convenient voting centers shall be open for voting for a minimum of ten (10) continuous hours but no more than thirteen (13) hours. All convenient voting centers in the eastern time zone shall close at eight o'clock p.m. (8:00 p.m.), prevailing time, and convenient voting centers in the central time zone shall close at seven o'clock p.m. (7:00 p.m.) prevailing time.
  2. At least fifteen (15) days before the date of each election, the county election commission shall determine a uniform time for the opening of all convenient voting centers.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

2-3-307. Evaluation report of pilot projects.

The coordinator of elections shall file a report with the state and local government committee of the senate and the local government committee of the house of representatives by January 31 following any election conducted under the pilot project. The report shall contain the coordinator's evaluation of the pilot project, together with the coordinator's recommendations as to whether convenient voting centers should continue for future elections.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

2-3-308. Establishment of convenient voting centers in county that conducted a pilot project.

  1. Any county in 2018 that conducted a pilot project under § 2-3-301 establishing convenient voting centers in the county and for which the coordinator of elections filed a favorable report under § 2-3-307 may create a program that establishes convenient voting centers in the county for federal, state, and local elections under the following conditions:
    1. For every ten thousand (10,000) registered voters, the county election commission shall locate at least one (1) convenient voting center; provided, that each county election commission shall locate at least two (2) convenient voting centers within a county. In determining the locations of the convenient voting centers, the county election commission shall consider the density of the county population, the geographic dividers, and all other facts and circumstances that exist within the county;
    2. Convenient voting centers shall be open for voting for a minimum of ten (10) continuous hours but no more than thirteen (13) hours. All convenient voting centers in the eastern time zone shall close at eight o'clock p.m. (8:00 p.m.), prevailing time, and convenient voting centers in the central time zone shall close at seven o'clock p.m. (7:00 p.m.) prevailing time;
    3. At least fifteen (15) days before the date of each election, the county election commission shall determine a uniform time for the opening of all convenient voting centers;
    4. Each convenient voting center used in the program shall have a secure electronic connection, certified by the coordinator of elections, to the computerized voter registration system maintained by the county election commission permitting all voting information processed by any computer at a convenient voting center to be immediately accessible to all other computers at all convenient voting centers in the county. The secure electronic connection must be sufficient to prevent any voter from voting more than once and to prevent unauthorized access to the computerized voter registration system;
    5. Each convenient voting center shall meet applicable federal and state laws, including the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act (42 U.S.C. § 15301);
    6. Section 2-3-107 and chapter 7 of this title apply to all convenient voting centers;
    7. If convenient voting centers are used in the election, the county election commission is not limited by the provisions of § 2-3-101(a); provided, that no polling location may be changed within ten (10) days of an election, except in an emergency;
  2. Any county meeting the requirements of subsection (a) must mail notices to active registered voters only if the election commission designates convenient voting centers that differ from those used in the previous election cycle.

Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1; 2019, ch. 234, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former part 3, §§ 2-3-3012-3-308 (Acts 2008, ch. 1087, § 1; 2011, ch. 455, §§ 1-5;  2013, ch. 236, § 65), concerning municipalities willing to  participate in the convenient voting centers pilot project, was repealed and reenacted by Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 1, effective January 1, 2017.

For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment rewrote the section, which read: “This part shall only apply in any county having a population of not less than two hundred sixty-two thousand six hundred (262,600) nor more than two hundred sixty-two thousand seven hundred (262,700), according to the 2010 federal census or any subsequent federal census.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 768, § 2. January 1, 2017.

Acts 2019, ch. 234, § 2. April 30, 2019.

Chapter 4
Election Officials

2-4-101. Officials conducting elections.

All elections shall be held by election officials appointed under this title.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-401.

Attorney General Opinions. A city is solely responsible for the costs of the special election to fill the vacancy in a council seat and cannot seek to recover those costs from the resigning member, OAG 07-169 (12/21/07).

2-4-102. Appointment of election officials and inspectors.

    1. Not more than ninety (90) days nor less than ten (10) days before each election, the county election commission shall appoint the following minimum number of election officials to hold elections at each polling place: one (1) officer of elections, and three (3) judges. Two (2) of the judges appointed hereunder shall concurrently serve as precinct registrars, in accordance with § 2-12-202. In precincts where voting machines are used, any judge not appointed to serve as a precinct registrar shall concurrently serve as a machine operator for that polling place. Additional precinct registrars and machine operators may be appointed in accordance with § 2-4-105 as necessary to adequately staff the polling place. One (1) machine operator may be appointed to operate no more than two (2) voting machines.
    2. Except for the officer of elections, the county election commission may provide that an appointment applies to a specific term that begins or expires at designated times during the election day.
    1. The county election commission may appoint for election day as many inspectors as it may deem necessary.
    2. If a statewide political party has no member on the county election commission and there is not at least one (1) election official appointed from its nominees under § 2-4-106 for each polling place for which it nominates officials, the county election commission shall, on request of the party's county primary board, appoint from that party's nominees under § 2-4-106 one (1) inspector for every thirty thousand (30,000) people in the county according to the 1970 federal census or any later federal census but not less than two (2) inspectors or more than ten (10).
    3. Inspectors represent the commission in its investigation of the conduct of elections. Inspectors shall report any irregularities to the county election commission and the county election commission shall promptly rule on the objections.
    4. No inspector may serve on election day who has not received the instruction provided under § 2-4-108.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 274, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-402; Acts 1991, ch. 131, § 1; 1997, ch. 558, § 26; 1999, ch. 197, § 3; 2011, ch. 412, §§ 2, 3; 2013, ch. 231, § 4; 2017, ch. 15, § 1; 2020, ch. 655, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment substituted “ninety (90) days” for “sixty (60) days” in (a).

The 2020 amendment added (a)(2).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 15 § 3. March 24, 2017.

Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

2-4-103. Residence and age qualifications of election officials.

  1. Officers of elections, judges, machine operators, precinct registrars and assistant precinct registrars shall be registered voters and shall reside in the county in which they are appointed to serve.
  2. Inspectors shall be registered voters at a polling place in the county and shall be inhabitants of the county.
  3. In counties having a population of less than six hundred thousand (600,000) according to the federal census of 1970 or any later federal census, the county election commission may appoint persons as precinct registrars who shall be registered voters at a polling place in the county and shall be inhabitants of the county.
    1. In counties having a metropolitan form of government, the county election commission may appoint persons as precinct registrars who shall be registered voters at a polling place within each legislative district.
    2. Inspectors shall be registered voters at a polling place in the legislative district in those counties having a metropolitan form of government.
  4. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a county election commission may appoint as an election official a person who has reached sixteen (16) years of age and who meets all other requirements to serve. This section does not prohibit a high school student appointed as a poll official from receiving compensation in addition to having an excused absence.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-403; Acts 1980, ch. 804, § 1; 2000, ch. 756, § 7; 2001, ch. 413, §§ 7, 8; 2003, ch. 374, § 1; 2011, ch. 167, § 1; 2020, ch. 655, § 6.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2020 amendment, in (e), substituted “sixteen (16)” for “seventeen (17)” in the first sentence and “This section does not prohibit” for “Nothing in this section shall prohibit” in the second sentence.

Effective Dates. Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

2-4-104. Judges to be of different political parties.

Not more than two (2) of the judges at a polling place may be of the same political party, if persons from different political parties are willing to serve. When primary elections are being held, at least one (1) judge shall be appointed from each party having a primary at the polling place for which the judges are being appointed.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-404.

2-4-105. Election officials and inspectors — Limitation on number from same party — Exception.

  1. As nearly as practicable, no more than one half (½) of the number of election officials at a polling place and no more than one half (½) of the whole number of inspectors may be members of the same political party. In applying the rule of this section to inspectors, inspectors whose appointment is required by § 2-4-102 shall not be counted.
  2. In the event that only one (1) political party elects to hold a primary election as authorized under § 2-13-203, then only members of that political party who call the primary shall be appointed to serve at the polls as election officials as required by this title.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974 ch. 448, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-405.

2-4-106. Nominations for appointments as election officials — Appointment by commission.

  1. Each county primary board shall, and each county executive committee may, nominate persons for appointment as election officials, including precinct and assistant precinct registrars.
  2. The county election commission shall appoint such nominees as election officials to meet the requirements of §§ 2-4-102, 2-4-104 and 2-4-105, but when there is an inadequate number of nominees, the county election commission may nominate as many additional persons as may be necessary for appointment.
  3. The nominations made pursuant to this section shall be made thirty (30) days prior to the appointment time, except that this subsection (c) does not apply to counties with a metropolitan form of government.
  4. The county election commission of any county may refuse to appoint any person nominated hereunder if  the members of the county election commission of the political party for which the person was appointed are of the opinion that:
    1. Such person is incompetent to hold elections;
    2. Such person failed to serve as directed in previous elections; or
    3. Such person is otherwise, in their opinion, unfit to serve in the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 642, §§ 2, 4; 1979, ch. 306, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-406; Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 1.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment deleted “such person has been appointed to hold elections previously and” following “nominated hereunder if” in the introductory paragraph of (d).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

2-4-107. Notice of appointment — Form.

The secretary of the county election commission or the administrator of elections shall notify each official of such official's appointment by mail or email in substantially the following form:

To

You have been appointed by the County Election Commission as a  (state in what capacity — judge, etc.) to hold the election at precinct  , on the day of  , between the hours of  a.m. and  p.m. If you cannot serve, notify the administrator of elections immediately.

Date

Secretary, County Election Commission/Administrator of Elections

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-407; Acts 1988, ch. 933, §§ 2, 3; 1997, ch. 558, § 27; 2018, ch. 842, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment inserted “or email” in the introductory language.

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 842, § 6. April 26, 2018.

2-4-108. Instruction of election officials — Compensation.

  1. The coordinator of elections shall create minimum standards for educating election officials throughout the state for use by the county election commissions. The standards shall include instructing election officials as to their duties during an election and educating the officials about the election laws of this state.
  2. After the appointment of the election officials pursuant to § 2-4-102, there shall be held in each county, under the direction of the county election commission, at least one (1) instructional meeting for the purpose of training election officials as to their duties during an election. The meeting shall at a minimum meet the standards created pursuant to subsection (a).
  3. The officials for each polling place shall attend the instructional meeting and shall receive, for the time spent in receiving such instructions and qualifying to serve at an election by taking the oath, the sum of ten dollars ($10.00), which is to be paid only if they serve in the election. The compensation may be increased by resolution of the county legislative body.
  4. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the county election commission may limit attendance at instructional meetings to only those persons who are inexperienced or otherwise need the training.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-408; Acts 1980, ch. 915, § 1; 1981, ch. 338, § 1; 1981, ch. 385, § 4; 1988, ch. 683, § 1; 2008, ch. 1099, § 1; 2012, ch. 1101, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1980, ch. 915, § 2 provided that the state's share of the cost of the 1980 amendment increasing the compensation of election officials “shall be funded from the increase in state imposed taxes which are earmarked to cities and counties and which are not designated to be used by such cities and counties for a particular purpose.”

This section may be affected by § 9-1-116, concerning entitlement to funds, absent appropriation.

2-4-109. Compensation paid officials for services.

  1. Officers of elections, judges, machine operators, and inspectors shall be paid for their services on election day a minimum of fifty dollars ($50.00). Compensation for such persons shall be paid as soon as possible after the election. The compensation may be increased by the county legislative body.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person may volunteer to provide services under subsection (a) without compensation.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 469, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-409; Acts 1999, ch. 197, § 4; 2001, ch. 413, § 5; 2008, ch. 928, § 8; 2017, ch. 15, § 2.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment added (b).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 15 § 3. March 24, 2017.

2-4-110. Filling vacancies — Notice of appointment.

If a county election commission determines that an official whom it has appointed cannot serve, the commission shall appoint a registered voter of the county to fill the vacancy and shall give the voter notice of such appointment.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-410; Acts 1988, ch. 933, § 4; 1997, ch. 558, § 28; 1999, ch. 197, § 5.

2-4-111. Administration of oaths.

The officers of elections may administer oaths in the performance of their duties.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-1215.

Chapter 5
Ballots and Supplies

Part 1
Petitions

2-5-101. Time for filing — Required signatures — Failure to file — Filing office hours — Prohibited acts — Death or late withdrawal of candidates.

  1. Candidates shall qualify by filing all nominating petitions, including any duplicate nominating petitions, by the deadlines set out in the schedule in this section. The qualifying deadline for any office not included in this section shall be twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the third Thursday in the third calendar month before the election.
    1. Independent and primary candidates for any office to be filled at the regular November election for which a primary is required to be held at the regular August election shall qualify by filing such candidates' nominating petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Thursday in April.
    2. Independent and primary candidates for any office to be filled in a regular August general election for which a May primary has been called under § 2-13-203 shall qualify by filing their petitions for the August election no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the third Thursday in February. In the event no May primary authorized under § 2-13-203 is called for any office to be filled in the regular August general election, then the candidates shall qualify by filing their petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Thursday in April. In presidential election years, if a political party calls for the county primary in March, the qualifying deadline for candidates in the primary and independent candidates for those offices shall be twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the second Thursday in December. Independent candidates for offices which will appear on the county primary ballot shall qualify by filing their petitions at the same time primary candidates qualify.
    3. Candidates in municipal elections held in conjunction with the regular August election shall file their nominating petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Thursday in April. Candidates in municipal elections held in conjunction with the presidential preference primary election shall file their nominating petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the second Thursday in December. Candidates in all other municipal elections shall file their nominating petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the third Thursday in the third calendar month before the election.
    4. In counties having a population in excess of six hundred thousand (600,000), according to the federal census of 1970 or any subsequent census, candidates in municipal elections will file their nominating petitions in accordance with time and date as prescribed for the August primary and November general election. When a special election is being held in conjunction with either a municipal August primary or November general election, the time of qualifying for candidates to the office for which the special election is being held shall conform and be governed by the same time and the same date prescribed for the municipal August primary or November general election; but in no way shall the time for qualifying specified by this subdivision (a)(4) be less than the qualifying time prescribed for the special election.
    1. Nominating petitions shall be signed by the candidate and twenty-five (25) or more registered voters who are eligible to vote to fill the office. Nominating petitions for independent presidential candidates shall be signed by the candidate and twenty-five (25) or more registered voters for each elector allocated to the state. Each independent candidate must designate the full number of electors allocated to the state.
    2. The signer of a petition must include the address of the signer's residence as shown on the signer's voter registration card in order for that person's signature to be counted. In the event that the signer of a petition includes information on a nominating petition that exceeds the information contained on such person's voter registration card, the signature shall be counted if there is no conflict between the nominating petition and the voter registration card. If no street address is shown on the signer's voter registration card, that person's signature and address as shown on the voter registration card shall be sufficient. A street address shall be sufficient, and no apartment number shall be required.
    3. A person's regular signature shall be accepted just as the person's legal signature would be accepted. For example, for the purposes of this subsection (b), “Joe Public” shall be accepted just as “Joseph Q. Public” would be accepted.
  2. If a candidate does not file by the deadline specified in this section, or fails to file any duplicate petition required by § 2-5-104 by the deadline specified in this section, or the candidate's petition does not contain the signatures and residential addresses of twenty-five (25) or more registered voters eligible to vote to fill the office, the candidate's name shall not be printed on any official ballot for the election.
  3. Offices in which petitions are to be filed shall be open until four o'clock (4:00 p.m.) prevailing time on the final day of any qualifying period.
  4. The name of any candidate nominated by any political party by any method other than a primary election, for any office to be filled in a regular August election for which a March or May primary has been called under § 2-13-203 shall be certified by the party executive committee to the county election commission or county administrator of elections by the qualifying deadline for the respective primary as provided for elsewhere in this section. If no primary is held, party nominees shall be certified no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Thursday in April.
    1. It is unlawful for any person to qualify as a candidate in a primary election with more than one (1) political party in which such person seeks the same office.
    2. It is unlawful for any person to qualify as an independent candidate and as a primary candidate for the same office in the same year.
    3. No person defeated in a primary election or party caucus shall qualify as an independent for the general election.
    4. No candidate in a party primary election or party caucus may appear on the ballot in a general election as the nominee of a different political party or as an independent.
    5. No candidate, whether independent or represented by a political party, may be permitted to submit and have accepted by any election commission, more than one (1) qualifying petition, or otherwise qualify and be nominated, or have such candidate's name anywhere appear on any ballot for any election or primary, wherein such candidate is attempting to be qualified for and nominated or elected to more than one (1) state office as described in either § 2-13-202(1) or (2) or in article VI of the Constitution of Tennessee or more than one (1) constitutional county office described in article VII, § 1 of the Constitution of Tennessee or any other county-wide office, voted on by voters during any primary or general election.
    6. It is unlawful for a person to qualify as a candidate for any election if such person has failed to file any required report for which a civil penalty has been imposed under chapter 10 of this title.
    1. If a candidate in a primary election or nonpartisan general election, after the qualifying deadline:
      1. Dies;
      2. Withdraws because of military call up;
      3. Withdraws because of physical or mental disability, such physical or mental disability being properly documented by competent medical authority;
      4. Withdraws because such candidate is forced to change residence by the candidate's employer for a job-related reason;
      5. Is declared ineligible or disqualified by a court or disqualified by the political party executive committee under § 2-5-204;
      6. Is declared disqualified by the peace officer standards and training (POST) commission pursuant to § 8-8-102(e); or
      7. Is declared disqualified by the Tennessee highway officials certification board pursuant to § 54-7-104;leaving no candidates for nomination or office, additional candidates may qualify for the election or that nomination by filing their petitions as provided by law no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time on the fortieth day before the election. If any of these events occur within ten (10) days of the fortieth day, the qualifying deadline shall be twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time on the tenth day following the death or withdrawal.
    2. Candidates may withdraw for reasons other than those listed in subdivision (g)(1); however, no additional candidates may qualify.
    1. This subsection (h) shall be known and may be cited as the “Anti-Skullduggery Act of 1991.”
    2. Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, additional candidates may qualify for an office by qualifying as provided by law no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the seventh day after the original withdrawal deadline, if an incumbent of such office is a candidate for a primary or a nonpartisan general election and if such incumbent dies or properly withdraws on the last day for qualifying or prior to twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the seventh day after the qualifying deadline.
    3. If an incumbent withdraws during the period specified in subdivision (h)(2), this subsection (h) shall operate to:
      1. Extend the period to qualify for the primary election of each political party holding a primary for that office;
      2. Extend the period during which a political party that would have been authorized by law to nominate a candidate for the office by a means other than primary election, but did not do so prior to the withdrawal of the incumbent; and
      3. Extend the period a person may qualify for a nonpartisan general election.
    4. Any request to withdraw by such additional candidates shall be filed no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the fourth day after the new qualifying deadline.
  5. Notwithstanding subdivisions (f)(1), (2), and (4), if an incumbent member of the general assembly who has filed a petition for reelection is disqualified by the political party executive committee under § 2-5-204, then the incumbent member of the general assembly may file a new petition for the same office as a candidate for another political party or as an independent candidate. Notwithstanding the filing deadlines in this section, an incumbent member of the general assembly filing a petition under this subsection (i) shall file the petition no later than ninety (90) days before:
    1. The primary election, if the incumbent is filing a petition as a candidate for another political party; or
    2. The general election, if the incumbent is filing a petition as an independent candidate.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 106, §§ 1, 2; 1973, ch. 160, § 1; 1974, ch. 660, § 1; 1974, ch. 731, § 1; 1975, ch. 26, § 1; 1975, ch. 83, § 1; 1977, ch. 47, § 1; 1978, ch. 940, § 1; 1979, ch. 115, § 1; 1979, ch. 136, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 15; T.C.A., §§ 2-505, 2-511(c); Acts 1981, ch. 382, § 1; 1981, ch. 385, § 3; 1981, ch. 478, §§ 12, 13; 1982, ch. 871, §§ 4, 5; 1982, ch. 894, § 1; 1983, ch. 266, § 1; 1985, ch. 81, § 1; 1986, ch. 562, § 20; 1988, ch. 516, § 1; 1988, ch. 933, §§ 5, 6, 13; 1989, ch. 128, §§ 1, 3; 1989, ch. 247, § 1; 1989, ch. 590, §§ 7-9; 1990, ch. 628, § 3; 1991, ch. 153, §§ 1-6; 1991, ch. 373, § 3; 1991, ch. 414, §§ 1, 2; 1994, ch. 771, §§ 1-3; 1995, ch. 87, §§ 1, 2; 1999, ch. 6, §§ 1, 2; 1999, ch. 208, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 756, § 8; 2001, ch. 199, §§ 1, 2; 2003, ch. 374, § 13; 2004, ch. 480, § 4; 2008, ch. 618, § 1; 2011, ch. 182, §§ 1, 2; 2012, ch. 955, § 9; 2015, ch. 508, § 2; 2016, ch. 604, § 2; 2020, ch. 713, § 1.

Code Commission Notes.

Former subsection (h), concerning applicability of amendments by Acts 1991, ch. 153 to elections in counties in 1991, was deleted as obsolete in 2014 by the code commission.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1989, ch. 247, § 2 also provided that the amendment by that act shall apply only to nominating petitions filed after May 9, 1989.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Acts 2020, ch. 713, § 2 provided that the act, which amended this section, shall apply to the 2020 election and all subsequent elections.

Amendments. The 2015 amendment added (g)(1)(F).

The 2016 amendment added (g)(1)(G).

The 2020 amendment added (i).

Effective Dates. Acts 2015, ch. 508, § 3. July 1, 2015.

Acts 2016, ch. 604, § 3. July 1, 2016.

Acts 2020, ch. 713, § 2. June 22, 2020.

Cross-References. Failure to use standard time, § 4-1-401.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 2, 12.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

Attorney General Opinions. Qualifying deadlines, constitutionality, OAG 88-42 (2/29/88).

Application of “sore loser” provisions to counties where candidates are nominated by party caucus, OAG 95-062 (5/26/95).

Simultaneously holding offices of constitutional convention delegate and general assembly member, OAG 98-054 (3/3/98).

County-wide offices include general sessions and juvenile court judgeships, OAG 98-097 (5/21/98).

Deadlines for filing nominating petitions for interim city council election, OAG 98-0172 (8/27/98).

Constitutionality of requirements for ballot access by new political parties, OAG 99-121 (5/19/99).

The same individual may not run for the office of sheriff and constable in the same election, OAG 02-012 (1/18/02).

Under T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f)(5), the same individual may not run for the offices of county commissioner and constable in the same election. But neither this statute nor T.C.A. § 5-5-102(c)(2) prohibits a constable from being nominated for or elected to membership in the county legislative body at some other time, OAG 08-177 (11/20/08).

Procedures for filling a vacancy in the state senate. OAG 14-78, 2014 Tenn. AG LEXIS 80 (8/27/14).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Purpose.

T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f) is obviously concerned with preserving the integrity of the primary process itself as part of the larger public policy aim of promoting stability and trust in the election process as a whole. One of the apparent goals of T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f) is to prevent candidates who start one race from jumping into another race that is already in progress. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

2. Failure to Certify Candidate.

Where a political party failed to certify to the county election commission the name of its candidate within the time prescribed, it could not thereafter renominate the same candidate under the provisions of § 2-13-204. State ex rel. Cassity v. Turner, 601 S.W.2d 710, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 468 (Tenn. 1980).

3. Eligibility of Candidates.

T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f) does not prohibit persons who are unsuccessful candidates in a party primary from subsequently running in a nonpartisan general election for a different office. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f)(3) and (4) prohibit an unsuccessful candidate in a party primary from appearing on the ballot in a subsequent partisan general election as an independent candidate or as a candidate of a different political party. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

Where the county commissioner's election was a nonpartisan race without a primary, individuals were eligible as candidates for county commissioner, even though they had been defeated in the May 1990 Democratic primary elections for different offices. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

Disappointed candidate for a county commission seat failed to establish grounds for an election contest under T.C.A. § 2-17-101 et seq., based on the election commission's honest mistake in accepting the candidate's opponent's petition signatures, although two signatures were found to be invalid. There was no allegation that anyone cast an illegal vote, and no showing that the election was so permeated with fraud and illegality that it could not be said to fairly reflect the will of the voters. Barrett v. Giles County, — S.W.3d —, 2011 Tenn. App. LEXIS 548 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 5, 2011).

4. Qualifying Deadlines.

If a candidate misses a qualifying deadline due to her reasonable and justifiable reliance upon an official opinion, relief from the mandatory deadline is appropriate, provided filing takes place with all reasonable dispatch after it is discovered the opinion is incorrect. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

Candidate for county commissioner in August general election should not be held to the strict filing restriction of T.C.A. § 2-5-101(g) in view of the fact that she reasonably and justifiably relied upon an official opinion that she could not run in the first place. Crowe v. Ferguson, 814 S.W.2d 721, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 296 (Tenn. 1991).

In a case in which the Tennessee Democratic Party (TNDP) filed a complaint for declaratory injunctive relief that a Republican candidate should not appear on the ballot for House District 26, the requests for injunctive relief were moot as the actions sought to be enjoined had occurred, and the request for declaratory judgment was moot as the Republican candidate was listed on the ballot and subsequently elected; and none of the exceptions to the mootness doctrine were present because the TNDP's challenge was to the timeliness of the Republican candidate's qualifying as a candidate, given the original candidate's withdrawal after the qualifying deadline; and it did not involve the structural integrity of the election itself or the results. Tenn. Democratic Party v. Hamilton Cty. Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2020 Tenn. App. LEXIS 75 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2020).

Collateral References.

Constitutionality of election laws as regards nominations by petition or otherwise than by statutory convention or primary election, with respect to right to have name upon official ballot. 146 A.L.R. 668.

Sufficiency of technical and procedural aspects of recall petitions. 116 A.L.R.5th 1.

2-5-102. Nominating petitions — Form — Requirements.

  1. Nominating petitions shall be in substantially the following form:

    We the undersigned registered voters of the city of  ,

    (for municipal elections)

    in the county of  , State of Tennessee, (and members of the (for primaries)  ________ Party), hereby nominate.

    (for municipal elections)

    __  ,

    County as a candidate (for nomination) for the office of

    (for primaries)

    to be voted in the election to be held on the  day of  ,  . We request that such candidate's name be printed on the official ballot.

    This petition was issued by

    (signature of administrator of elections, deputy or election commissioner)

    TO BE COMPLETED BY CANDIDATE

    I hereby direct that my name appear on the official ballot as follows:

    PRINT NAME

    (residential address of candidate)   (zip)       (telephone)

    (business address of candidate)    (zip)       (telephone)

    FOR CANDIDATES REQUIRED TO BE AN ATTORNEY:

    By my signature, I hereby certify that I

    am licensed to practice law in this state.

    (signature of candidate)

    SUPREME COURT REGISTRATION No.

    NOMINATING SIGNATURES

    (Must be registered voters who are eligible to vote to fill this office)

    Signature of Voter Address of Residence as Shown on

    Voter Registration

    1. All nominating petitions required for nomination and election to all congressional, state, county, municipal and political party executive committee offices shall be furnished only by the county election commission office. At the time of issuance of the nominating petitions, the administrator of elections, deputy or a county election commissioner shall type or handwrite in ink at the top of the cover page and each succeeding page of the form the name of the candidate, the office sought by the candidate, including any division, part, district or other identifying number for the office sought, and shall sign and date the form. Additional pages to be attached to a nominating petition may be obtained at a later date; provided, that each additional page must also have the name of the candidate, the office being sought and any identifying number for the office typed or handwritten at the top by the administrator, deputy or election commissioner along with the candidate's signature and the date.
    2. Nominating petitions for offices listed in § 2-13-202 may also be obtained from the office of the coordinator of elections. An employee of the coordinator's office has the same responsibilities as the administrator, deputy and election commissioners in subdivision (b)(1).
    3. The items to be completed under subdivisions (b)(1) and (2) may not be altered, and a petition on which any of these items has been altered may not be accepted in the office in which it is required to be filed in this state. Neither shall any original nominating petition be accepted on which any of the items required to be completed under subdivisions (b)(1) and (2) have been photocopied.
    4. If a county election commission finds it necessary to photocopy the nominating petition, the county election commission shall indicate in the upper right hand corner of each page that the document was photocopied by the county election commission prior to distributing the form to a candidate. Such information shall be typed, stamped or otherwise permanently affixed to the form.
    5. Nominating petitions must not be issued by any administrator, deputy, county election commissioner, or employee of the coordinator's office more than sixty (60) days before the qualifying deadline for the office for which the petition is issued; provided, that nominating petitions for the offices of President of the United States and delegates to the national conventions of all statewide political parties may be issued only by an employee of the coordinator's office and must not be issued more than ninety (90) days before the applicable qualifying deadline for the respective office. During any year in which reapportionment must occur, the coordinator of elections shall determine the earliest date on which petitions may be issued.

(address)

(division, part or district number)

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-506; Acts 1991, ch. 198, § 1; 1992, ch. 757, § 1; 1997, ch. 558, § 4; 2001, ch. 413, § 14; 2014, ch. 724, § 4; 2018, ch. 637, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment substituted “FOR CANDIDATES REQUIRED TO BE AN ATTORNEY” for “FOR JUDICIAL CANDIDATES ONLY” in the nominating petition form.

The 2018 amendment, effective January 1, 2019, in (b)(5), rewrote the first sentence which read: “Nominating petitions shall not be issued by any administrator, deputy, county election commissioner or employee of the coordinator's office more than ninety (90) days before the qualifying deadline for the office for which the petition is issued.”, and substituted “During any year in which” for “In any year where” at the beginning of the second sentence.

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

Acts 2018, ch. 637, § 2. January 1, 2019.

Cross-References. Signer of nominating petition must include address, § 2-1-107.

Attorney General Opinions. Under T.C.A. § 2-5-101(f)(5), the same individual may not run for the offices of county commissioner and constable in the same election. But neither that statute nor T.C.A. § 5-5-102(c)(2) prohibits a constable from being nominated for or elected to membership in the county legislative body at some other time, OAG 08-177 (11/20/08).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Nominating petition form requiring signatories of the petition to affirm that they were members of the nominee's minor political party was unconstitutional, since the compelled disclosure of political affiliation violated the right to associate as a political party and the right to privacy concerning party affiliation. Green Party of Tenn. Constitution Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 882 F. Supp. 2d 959, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13765 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2012), rev'd, Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

2-5-103. Candidates for statewide elections.

  1. Each independent or primary candidate for an office elected by the voters of the entire state shall file the candidate's original nominating petition in the office of the state election commission and a certified duplicate with the coordinator of elections and with the chair of the party's state executive committee in the case of primary candidates.
  2. The chair of the state election commission shall, no later than twelve (12:00) noon prevailing time on the first Thursday after the deadlines set in § 2-5-101, certify to the chairs of the county election commissions the names of all candidates who have qualified under this section to have their names on the ballots for general or primary elections.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-507.

2-5-104. Candidates for other than statewide elections.

  1. Each independent or primary candidate, other than those filing under § 2-5-103, and those filing under subsection (b) or subsection (c), shall file the candidate's original nominating petition with the chair or the administrator of elections of the county election commission in the county in which the candidate is a resident and shall file certified duplicates of the nominating petition with the chairs or administrators of the county election commissions in all counties wholly or partially within the area served by the office which the candidate seeks.
    1. Each independent or primary candidate for the office of representative to the United States congress shall file the candidate's nominating petitions as a candidate for an office elected by the voters of the entire state would file the candidate's nominating petitions under the provisions of § 2-5-103.
    2. However, any independent and primary candidate for the office of representative to the United States congress from a district located entirely in one (1) county shall file the candidate's nominating petitions under the provisions of this section.
  2. Each candidate for municipal office shall file the candidate's original nominating petition with the county election commission where the municipality is located. If the municipality is located in more than one (1) county, the candidate shall file the nominating petition with the county election commission of the county responsible for holding the election pursuant to § 6-53-101.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 31, § 1; 1977, ch. 480, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 2; 1979, ch. 115, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-508; Acts 1982, ch. 746, §§ 1, 2; 1998, ch. 720, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Attorney General Opinions. Applicability to municipal elections for cities located in more than one county, OAG 96-129 (11/12/96).

2-5-105. Certification of political party nominees.

Political party nominees are qualified by certification of their names as nominees under chapter 8 of this title or §§ 2-13-1012-13-205.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-503.

2-5-106. Certification of attorney on nominating petition.

  1. Any person seeking election to any office that is required by law to be held by an attorney shall certify on the person's nominating petition for such office that such person is licensed to practice law in this state, and shall place on such petition the person's supreme court registration number.
  2. Any person failing to comply with this section shall be disqualified from having the person's name placed on the election ballot for such office.

Acts 1989, ch. 590, § 10; 2014, ch. 724, § 3.

Amendments. The 2014 amendment substituted “any office” for “a judicial office” near the beginning of (a); and substituted “such office” for “such judicial office” at the end of (b).

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 724, § 12. April 16, 2014.

2-5-107. Inapplicability of part to certain retention elections.

This part shall not apply to a retention election in which a judge of the supreme court, the court of appeals, or the court of criminal appeals seeks election to fill the office to which the incumbent judge was appointed and confirmed. Title 17, chapter 4, part 1 shall govern such elections.

Acts 2016, ch. 528, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. For the Preamble to the act concerning an orderly procedure for the appointment, confirmation, and retention of appellate court judges as required by Tennessee Constitution, Article VI, Section 3, please refer to Acts 2016, ch. 528.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 528, § 23. January 28, 2016.

2-5-108 — 2-5-150. [Reserved.]

  1. Any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section.
  2. Before a petition may be circulated, at least one (1) registered voter of the city or county shall file with the county election commission:
    1. The proper form of the petition; and
    2. The text of the question posed in the petition.
  3. The county election commission shall certify whether the petition is in proper form within thirty (30) days after the filing of the documentation required by subsection (b). The individual or individuals filing the petition shall have fifteen (15) days to cure any defects in the documentation required by subsection (b) by filing revised documentation in proper form with the county election commission. The county election commission shall determine within fifteen (15) days whether or not the revised documentation shall be certified for final approval.
  4. Petitions shall be signed by at least fifteen percent (15%) of those registered to vote in the municipality or county. The disqualification of one (1) or more signatures shall not render a petition invalid, but shall disqualify such signatures from being counted towards the statutory minimum number of signatures required in this section.
  5. Upon filing, each completed petition shall contain the following:
    1. The full text of the question attached to each petition;
    2. The genuine signature and address of registered voters only, pursuant to the requirements of § 2-1-107;
    3. The printed name of each signatory; and
    4. The date of signature.
    1. Completed petitions shall be filed with the county election commission within seventy-five (75) days after final certification by the county election commission as required by subsection (c).
    2. In addition, a petition for recall, referendum or initiative shall be filed at least ninety (90) days before a general municipal or county election may be held on the question contained in such petition. The question contained in a petition filed less than ninety (90) days before an upcoming general municipal or county election will be placed on the ballot of the following general municipal or county election.
  6. Any person may request either in person or in writing that the county election commission remove such person's name from a petition. Such request must be made within eight (8) days of filing of the completed petition and before final certification by the county election commission of the petition.
  7. The county election commission shall certify whether or not the completed petition meets all applicable requirements within thirty (30) days of filing of the completed petition.
  8. Upon certification by the county election commission pursuant to subsection (h), the election commission shall publish the question contained in the petition pursuant to § 2-12-111.
  9. This section shall control notwithstanding any statutory provision or charter provision of a municipality or county to the contrary; provided, that any contrary charter provision of a municipality or county which is enacted after July 1, 1997, shall control with respect only to the requirements set forth in subsection (d) relating to the statutory minimum number of signatures required in a petition, and to the provisions of subdivision (f)(1) relating to the seventy-five-day deadline for filing of a petition after final certification by the county election commission.
  10. This section shall control any petition with signatures filed with the county election commission on or after June 25, 1997.
  11. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, this section shall not apply to any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population greater than one hundred thousand (100,000), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

Acts 1997, ch. 558, § 33; 2005, ch. 428, § 1; 2012, ch. 1101, § 4; 2013, ch. 231, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Attorney General Opinions. Application to recall petition for city council member, OAG 97-149 (10/23/97).

Scheduling recall election, OAG 00-052 (3/22/00).

To the extent that a city charter authorized a county election commission to set a special election on a date other than the next available general municipal or county election more than 60 days from certification of the recall petition, the charter conflicted with and was superseded by T.C.A. § 2-5-151(f)(2), OAG 01-100 (6/18/01).

A recall election under a city charter is a “special election,” but must be held at the same time as the next “general municipal or county election” more than 60 days from certification of the recall petition, OAG 01-100 (6/18/01).

The redistricting by a city of its council districts during the 75 day signature gathering period in T.C.A. § 2-5-151(f)(2) has no effect on the requirements of T.C.A. §§ 2-5-151(e)(2) and 2-1-107, OAG 01-100 (6/18/01).

If a timely filed petition satisfies all the requirements of this section and the applicable requirements of the city charter, then the county election commission may conduct the referendum with a general city-wide judicial election, OAG 03-109 (9/8/03).

Whether subsection (j) of this section or T.C.A. § 6-53-108 supersedes a municipal charter provision on recall depends on whether the charter conflicts with either of the statutes, OAG 04-135 (8/23/04).

Recall petitions in multi-district cities or counties.  OAG 12-56, 2012 Tenn. AG LEXIS 56 (5/21/12).

Removal of county property assessor for misconduct.  OAG 13-30, 2013 Tenn. AG LEXIS 31 (4/5/13).

Referendum on deannexation.  OAG 13-45, 2013 Tenn. AG LEXIS 47 (6/11/13).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Even if an issue existed with the constitutionality under the Class Legislation Clause, Tenn. Const. art. XI, § 8, of T.C.A. § 2-5-151 due to the existence of the later-enacted § 2-5-151(l ), the remedy under T.C.A. § 1-3-110 would be to elide the offending provision, subsection (l ). Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

2. Number of Signatures Required.

Recall petition did not have a sufficient minimum number of dated signatures to satisfy the requirements of Chattanooga, Tenn., City Charter § 3.18 as: (1) Section 3.18 governs the minimum number of signatures required for a recall petition as the 2002 Chattanooga City Charter restatement was sufficient to enact a contrary charter provision pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-5-151(j); (2) Section 2-5-151 otherwise controls as under § 2-5-151(a), any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall had to meet the requirements of § 2-5-151; and (3) Section 2-5-151(e)(4) requires that all signatures affixed to a recall petition be dated. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

Chattanooga, Tenn., City Charter § 3.18 governs the minimum number of signatures required for a recall petition as the 2002 Chattanooga City Charter restatement is a contrary charter provision pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-5-151(j); § 2-5-151 otherwise controls as under § 2-5-151(a), any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall shall meet the requirements of § 2-5-151. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

3. Three-Step Process.

County election commission erred in setting a contested election without first presenting the question of the recall of the mayor to the voters as T.C.A. § 2-5-151 established a three-step process for recall elections whereby: (1) The petitions were certified, with a question as to whether the incumbent office holder should be removed; (2) A referendum was held on whether to remove the incumbent office holder; and (3) If that official was recalled by the voters, then there was an election for the replacement of that position. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

T.C.A. § 2-5-151 establishes a three-step process for recall elections whereby: (1) There is the certification of the petitions with a question as to whether the incumbent office holder should be removed; (2) There is a referendum whether to remove the incumbent office holder; and (3) If that official is recalled by the voters, then there is an election for the replacement of that position. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

4. Full Compliance Required.

T.C.A. § 2-5-151(h) provides that the county election commission shall certify whether or not the completed petition meets all applicable requirements within 30 days of filing of the completed petition; the Tennessee legislature has not given authority to the election commission to certify partial compliance or to pick and choose which of the applicable requirements are sufficient for compliance. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

County election commission's claim that only a substantial compliance, rather than a strictly literal compliance, with the election laws was required was rejected as T.C.A. § 2-5-151(h) provided that the county election commission was to certify whether or not the completed petition met all applicable requirements within 30 days of filing of the completed petition; the Tennessee legislature did not give authority to the election commission to certify partial compliance or to pick and choose which of the applicable requirements were sufficient for compliance. Littlefield v. Hamilton County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 628 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2012).

5. Amending Home Rule City's Charter.

Memphis, Tenn., Ordinance § 5-8-8(C)(1), requiring the bidding of contracts “involving” more than $50,000, did not require a city to bid the city's recycling contract because (1) the contract did not require “expenditures,” under Memphis, Tenn., City Charter art. 7, § 51(1), which controlled over an ordinance, and (2) the Charter had not been amended to require bidding for contracts “involving” expenditures. Rock-Tenn Converting Co. v. City of Memphis, — S.W.3d —, 2014 Tenn. App. LEXIS 555 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2014).

Collateral References.

Application of constitutional “compactness requirement” to redistricting. 114 A.L.R.5th 311.

State court jurisdiction over congressional redistricting disputes. 114 A.L.R.5th 387.

Sufficiency of particular charges as affecting enforceability of recall petition. 114 A.L.R.5th 1.

Part 2
Ballots and Supplies

2-5-201. Printing of ballots.

All ballots used in elections shall be printed and made as provided in this chapter except to the extent that other sections of this title expressly provide otherwise.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-501.

Cross-References. English deemed official and legal language, § 4-1-404.

2-5-202. Separate general and primary election ballots.

Each county election commission shall have printed separate general and primary election ballots on which shall be only the names of candidates who have qualified and who are to be voted on at the polling place in which the ballots are to be used.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-502.

Attorney General Opinions. The qualifications of a person to hold the office of state senator may be challenged at two different times: first, at the time of placement of qualified candidates' names on the ballot by a county election commission prior to the election; and, second, after the election but prior to the taking of the oath in an election contest in the state senate, OAG 02-032 (3/15/02).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Ministerial Duties.

Local elections commission's ministerial duties are clear with regard to finalizing the list of candidates on an election ballot; it is implicit in executing these ministerial duties that the commission and election coordinator must be able to determine whether a candidate is disqualified to run due to his or her residency or some other factor. McFarland v. Pemberton, — S.W.3d —, 2015 Tenn. App. LEXIS 908 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 16, 2015), aff'd, McFarland v. Pemberton, 530 S.W.3d 76, 2017 Tenn. LEXIS 561 (Tenn. Sept. 20, 2017).

2-5-203. Independent candidates.

Candidates who are not to be placed on ballots as nominees of a political party shall be known as “independent candidates.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-504.

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of state statutory requirements concerning placement of independent candidate for president of the united states on ballot. 33 A.L.R.6th 513.

2-5-204. Placing of names on ballots — Withdrawal or disqualification of candidate — Death of candidate.

  1. Each qualified candidate's name shall be placed on the ballot as it appears on the candidate's nominating petitions unless the candidate dies before the ballots are printed, or unless the candidate requests in writing that the candidate's name not appear on the ballot and files the request with each of the officers with whom the candidate filed nominating petitions or to whom the candidate's nomination was certified as a political party nominee, or unless the executive committee with which a primary candidate filed the original petition determines that the candidate is not qualified under § 2-13-104.
    1. A candidate's request to withdraw shall be filed no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the seventh day after the qualifying deadline for the election. A candidate who qualifies pursuant to § 2-5-101(g)(1) or who is nominated pursuant to § 2-13-204(c) must file any request to withdraw no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the third day after the qualifying deadline.
      1. An executive committee that determines that a candidate is not qualified under § 2-13-104 shall file the committee's determination with the coordinator of elections no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the seventh day after the qualifying deadline for the election. The coordinator of elections shall notify each county election commission on whose ballots the candidate's name would otherwise appear prior to the election commission printing the ballot.
      2. If an executive committee submits a candidate's name to be excluded from the ballot pursuant to subdivision (b)(2)(A), the executive committee shall provide the candidate written notice of the exclusion within two (2) days after submission. The executive committee shall mail the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, or any form of expedited mail that requires a signature at receipt, to the residential address or the business address of the candidate as listed on the candidate's nominating petition. The executive committee shall retain the return receipts, or other documentation of timely notification, for a period of not less than one (1) year from the date the notification was sent. The candidate may appeal the determination in writing and must file the original appeal with the executive committee and a copy of the appeal with the coordinator of elections within two (2) days of receipt of the notice from the executive committee. Unless the coordinator of elections receives a letter from the executive committee withdrawing the committee's determination of the candidate's disqualification no later than the close of business seven (7) days after the original withdrawal deadline, the candidate's name must be excluded from the ballot. The executive committee may file the withdrawal letter with the coordinator of elections by fax, email, hand delivery, or through a priority mail process.
      3. The appeal process described in subdivision (b)(2)(B) does not apply to a special primary or special general election to fill the vacancy for members of the general assembly or the office of representatives in congress.
  2. If no less than four (4) members of the county election commission vote in the affirmative that a candidate's name on the ballot would be confusing or misleading, the county election commission may require further identifying information or may omit any confusing or misleading portion of the name. In an election where the candidate's name will appear on the ballot in more than one (1) county, this authority shall rest with the state election commission.
  3. No titles may be printed with the candidate's name.
  4. If a candidate dies within forty (40) days before the election, the decedent's name shall remain on the ballot. If the deceased candidate receives the necessary votes to otherwise be elected, then a vacancy shall exist. The vacancy shall be filled as otherwise provided for by law.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-509; Acts 1988, ch. 933, § 14; 1989, ch. 128, § 2; 1999, ch. 6, § 3; 1999, ch. 197, § 6; 2001, ch. 413, § 2; 2019, ch. 441, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment rewrote (b)(2), which read: “An executive committee's determination shall be filed with the chair or administrator of elections of each county election commission on whose ballots the candidate's name would otherwise appear no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the seventh day after the qualifying deadline for the election.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 441, § 2. May 22, 2019.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Standing.

Election commission had standing to seek a declaratory judgment as to the eligibility of individuals who submitted qualifying petitions for re-election because the commission was required to place every qualified candidate on the ballot, and qualification included term limitations. Jordan v. Knox County, 213 S.W.3d 751, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 26 (Tenn. 2007).

2. Withdrawal of Request.

Candidate who, pursuant to this section, requests that his name not appear on the ballot may not withdraw his request and have his name restored to the ballot. State ex rel. Ozment v. Rand, 567 S.W.2d 759, 1978 Tenn. LEXIS 606 (Tenn. 1978).

Trial court did not err in dismissing a candidate's complaint against the county election commission because the candidate never filed a request to withdraw from the election. Bivens v. White, — S.W.3d —, 2015 Tenn. App. LEXIS 738 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 16, 2015), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2016 Tenn. LEXIS 18 (Tenn. Jan. 14, 2016).

3. Ministerial Duty.

Losing candidate's claim against a county election commission failed when the candidate's allegation of the winning candidate's disqualification occurred after the election was over because the commission was legally bound in its ministerial capacity to certify the election results. The discretion was not bestowed by the Tennessee General Assembly upon commissions to refrain from certifying election winners on the basis of tardy challenges to a candidate's qualifications. Young v. Stamey, — S.W.3d —, 2020 Tenn. App. LEXIS 118 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2020).

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of state statutory requirements concerning placement of independent candidate for president of the united states on ballot. 33 A.L.R.6th 513.

2-5-205. Presidential preference primary — Printing of names on ballot — Withdrawal of name.

  1. The names of candidates for president of the United States shall be printed on the ballot for the presidential preference primary only if they are:
    1. The names of persons whom the secretary of state, in the secretary of state's sole discretion, has determined are generally advocated or recognized as candidates in national news media throughout the United States. The secretary of state shall submit the names to the state election commission no later than the first Tuesday in December of the year before the year in which the election will be held. If a candidate who has been certified by the secretary of state wishes to be a candidate in the presidential primary of a party other than that for which the secretary of state certified the candidate, the candidate shall signify the candidate's political party preference to the state election commission no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the date established in subsection (b), and the candidate's name shall be certified only for the ballot of the candidate's chosen party, as the case may be.
    2. The names of persons for whom nominating petitions, signed by at least two thousand five hundred (2,500) registered voters of the party whose nomination is sought and by the candidate, are filed not later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Tuesday in December of the year before the year in which the election will be held. The nominating petitions shall be filed with the state election commission and certified duplicates with the coordinator of elections and with the chair of the candidate's party's state executive committee. No candidate may enter the presidential primary of more than one (1) statewide political party.
  2. The secretary of state shall advise each of the prospective candidates by the most expeditious means available that, unless a candidate withdraws the candidate's name by twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the second Tuesday in December of the year before the year in which the election will be held, the candidate's name will appear on the ballot of the candidate's party in the presidential preference primary. If such a person executes and files with the state election commission an affidavit stating without qualification that the candidate is not and does not intend to become a candidate for president in the forthcoming presidential election, the candidate's name shall not be on the ballot.
  3. The secretary of state shall certify to the county election commissions on the third Thursday in December the names which this section requires to be on the ballot for each political party.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1976, ch. 439, § 1; 1977, ch. 316, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-510; Acts 1986, ch. 562, §§ 1-4; 1987, ch. 409, §§ 1-5; 2003, ch. 374, §§ 14-17.

Cross-References. Presidential preference primaries, date of election, failure to have candidate's name on ballot, § 2-13-205.

Presidential preference primary and convention delegates, title 2, ch. 13, part 3.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Mootness of Request.

Appellant's action to require the Tennessee secretary of state to place his name on the ballot for the 1984 Democratic presidential preference primary became moot after the primary and was properly dismissed by the trial court. LaRouche v. Crowell, 709 S.W.2d 585, 1985 Tenn. App. LEXIS 3409 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047, 106 S. Ct. 1265, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574, 1986 U.S. LEXIS 592 (1986).

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of state statutory requirements concerning placement of independent candidate for president of the United States on ballot. 33 A.L.R.6th 513.

2-5-206. Forms of ballots on voting machines.

  1. Voting machine ballot labels and names of candidates shall be printed in black ink with office titles printed in black or red ink on clear material of such size as will fit the ballot frame and in as plain, clear type as the space will reasonably permit.
  2. All voting machine ballots shall be arranged as follows:
    1. In primary elections, the title of the offices shall be placed vertically on the left or right side of the ballot, and there shall be a vertical column for each political party, and the names of the candidates shall be placed opposite the title of the office for which they are to be selected, in alphabetical order according to the initials of their surname, beginning with the first initial. Each column shall be designated by the name of the political party for that column;
    2. In general elections, the title of the offices shall be placed vertically on the left or the right side of the ballot, and there shall be a vertical column for each political party. Any candidate whose name is to be placed on the ballot by virtue of party nomination shall be listed in the political column of such candidate's party, opposite the title of the office the candidate seeks. One (1) vertical column for independent candidates shall be placed on the ballot and shall appear immediately after the political party columns. The independent candidates shall be listed in alphabetical order according to the initials of their surnames, beginning with the first initial. The independent candidate's name shall be listed opposite the title of the office the candidate seeks. This ballot format shall apply to all voting machine ballots, except in counties using Automatic Voting Machine, Inc. type machines, C.E.S., Votomatic or comparable punch card voting systems, or Shouptronic or other comparable direct recording electronic voting systems. Any county using Automatic Voting Machine, Inc. type machines shall arrange its machine ballots in the following manner, to wit: the title of offices shall be placed in vertical columns and the names of the candidates shall be placed in horizontal columns with each political party having its own columns and the independents being placed in a single column or columns after the political party columns; with such candidates' names being listed alphabetically according to the initials of their surname, beginning with the first initial. The ballot format for C.E.S., Inc., Votomatic, or other comparable punch card systems shall be governed by the rules set out by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission under § 2-9-110. The ballot format for Shouptronic or other comparable direct recording electronic voting systems shall be governed by the rules set out by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission under § 2-9-110. Such rules shall be approved by not less than four (4) members of the state election commission;
    3. If the arrangement as set out in subdivisions (b)(1) and (2) will not fit on the voting machine ballot, the county election commission may arrange the ballot so that the voting machine will accommodate the entire ballot including, without limitation, the arrangement of material in vertical columns with the office appearing first and the candidates for such office listed vertically beneath the office, with political party nominees indicated by (D) or (R) and independent candidates by (I); and
    4. Any county using a punch card format system which places an identifying number on the punch card ballot shall place the corresponding number by each position or name displayed on the ballot pages.
  3. The county election commission of each county shall prepare a sample ballot of all candidates and mail this sample ballot to the coordinator of elections for approval. No ballot shall be printed or funds expended therefor by any county until such approval has been granted. The coordinator of elections must give approval or disapproval within ten (10) days of the receipt of the sample ballot.
  4. If the coordinator of elections or the state election commission fails to correct promptly any alleged defect in any ballot, whether for voting machine, paper ballot, or otherwise, a candidate, the candidate's representative, or other party deemed to have standing may apply to the chancery court in the county wherein the allegedly defective ballot may be used, for any appropriate relief under this code or the rules of civil procedure.
    1. Should there be so many candidates or questions, or both, to be voted upon in any election, as to exceed the capacity of a voting machine, paper ballots shall be provided for each polling place, to hold the entire ballot. Where paper ballots are required to list the entire ballot, the names of all candidates for any one (1) particular office shall be printed on the same paper ballot.
    2. Notwithstanding subdivision (e)(1), in any county where a voting machine will not accommodate the entire ballot, the coordinator of elections may, with the approval of the county election commission, permit the placement of part of the ballot on paper ballots. In considering the priority in which parts of the ballot should be placed on paper ballots, the coordinator shall first permit the placement of the candidates for the court of appeals and the court of criminal appeals on paper ballots. Next, the coordinator shall permit the placement of the unopposed candidates for countywide positions on paper ballots; provided, that no candidate who is unopposed in a primary election shall be placed on paper ballots. In any county having a population of not less than one hundred forty-three thousand nine hundred (143,900) nor more than one hundred forty-four thousand (144,000) according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, the coordinator shall permit the placement of candidates in nonpartisan elections for county commission on paper ballots.
  5. The machine shall be so adjusted that when one (1) or more voting pointers equaling the total number of persons to be elected to an office shall have been operated, all other voting pointers connected with that office shall be locked. The machines shall be so adjusted that no voter may vote in more than one (1) party's primary election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 353, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 2-512; Acts 1982, ch. 871, § 3; 1989, ch. 274, §§ 3, 4; 1989, ch. 573, § 1; 1989, ch. 574, § 1; 1990, ch. 628, § 4; 1990, ch. 797, § 1; 1997, ch. 331, § 1; 2000, ch. 756, § 17.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Cross-References. Arrangement of material on ballots, § 2-5-208.

Voting machines, title 2, ch. 9.

Attorney General Opinions. Form and layout of ballot used on voting machines, OAG 06-154 (10/5/06).

2-5-207. Form of paper ballots.

  1. The state election commission shall establish a uniform maximum and minimum width for all paper ballots. Paper ballots shall be of such length and width as the county election commission deems necessary to contain the offices, names of the candidates, and questions required to be printed, with a stub containing a number.
  2. On the front or back of paper ballots shall be conspicuously printed the words, “Official Ballot for (General) (  Party Primary) Election,” followed by the designation of the polling place for which the ballot is prepared, the date of the election, and the names of the members of the county election commission holding the election. The size of the print may not be less than ten (10) point.
  3. Except in counties using an electronic ballot marking system or ballot-on-demand technology approved by the coordinator of elections, all paper ballots for use in a polling place must be fastened together in convenient numbers in books so that each ballot may be detached and removed separately. Each stub must be attached to the ballot so that when the ballot is folded, the stub can be detached without injury to the ballot and without exposing its contents. Each stub must be serially numbered by the printer, and no two (2) ballots for use in a single precinct may have the same number. The commission shall keep a record of the numbers of the ballots supplied to each polling place.
    1. On paper ballots, the titles of the offices shall be printed vertically on the left side of the ballot. There shall be a sufficient number of columns to list all political party nominees, independents and uncontested races, each political party and the independents having a column of its own. Any candidate whose name is to be placed on the ballot by virtue of party nomination shall be listed in the political column of the candidate's party, opposite the title of the office the candidate seeks. The independent candidate's name shall also be placed opposite the title of the office such candidate seeks. One (1) column will be left blank for each race, for the purpose of write-in candidates.
    2. Whenever primary elections are being held to select nominees, the names of the candidates shall be listed in alphabetical order, according to the initials of their surname, beginning with the first initial, in the column of their respective political party.
  4. The county election commission of each county shall prepare a sample ballot of all candidates listed in § 2-13-202 and shall mail this sample ballot to the coordinator of elections for approval. No ballot shall be printed or funds expended therefor by any county until such approval has been granted.
  5. The coordinator of elections shall determine distinguishable colors to be used in the printing of the ballot envelopes for early voting and absentee voting. Both envelopes shall include a place for the voter's precinct and district number and a statement for the administrator of elections to sign stating that the voter's signature has been verified and appears to be valid. The absentee voting ballot envelope need not contain a certificate for an attesting official.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 353, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-513; Acts 1988, ch. 933, § 7; 1994, ch. 859, § 8; 2007, ch. 125, § 2; 2020, ch. 655, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2020 amendment, in (c), substituted “must” for “shall” in the first three sentences and “Except in counties using an electronic ballot marking system or ballot-on-demand technology approved by the coordinator of elections, all paper ballots” for “All paper ballots” in the beginning of the subsection.

Effective Dates. Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

Cross-References. Absentee voting, ch. 6, title 2, ch. 6, part 2.

Early voting, title 2, ch. 6, part 1.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Scope of Discretion.

Without question, the commission and the coordinator have certain statutorily prescribed ministerial duties that allow, indeed require, them to do such things as examine ballot initiatives to determine whether signature requirements are met, determine whether submissions are timely, and determine whether candidates have properly qualified to be placed on the ballot; however, these statutes do not require or even permit the commission to refuse to include a referendum question on the ballot because the commission believes the question to be substantively unconstitutional. Determining the substantive constitutionality of such measures is a function reserved for the judicial branch of government City of Memphis v. Shelby County Election Comm'n, 146 S.W.3d 531, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 802 (Tenn. 2004).

Collateral References.

Official ballots or ballots conforming to requirements, failure to make available as affecting validity of election of public officer. 165 A.L.R. 1263.

2-5-208. Arrangement of material on ballots.

  1. The requirements of this section apply to all ballots.
  2. Immediately following the title of each office shall be printed the words “Vote for one (1),” “Vote for two (2),” according to the number to be elected.
    1. The order of the titles of the offices to be filled or for which nominees are to be chosen shall be substantially as follows:
      1. Presidential and vice presidential electors;
      2. Governor;
      3. United States senate;
      4. United States house of representatives;
      5. Tennessee senate;
      6. Tennessee house of representatives;
      7. Supreme court judge;
      8. Court of appeals judge;
      9. Court of criminal appeals judge;
      10. Circuit court judge;
      11. Chancellor;
      12. Criminal court judge;
      13. District attorney general;
      14. Public defender;
      15. County mayors, including popularly elected mayors of metropolitan county governments;
      16. County legislative offices, including members of the county legislative bodies;
      17. Assessor of property;
      18. County trustee;
      19. General sessions judge;
      20. Juvenile court judge;
      21. Sheriff;
      22. Clerks of courts;
      23. County clerk;
      24. Register;
      25. Elective county department offices, including road superintendents or commissioners, school boards and purchasing agents;
      26. Municipal executive offices;
      27. Municipal legislative offices;
      28. Municipal judicial offices; and
      29. Offices which do not fall into any classification listed in this subdivision (c)(1).
    2. If several offices to be filled are within a single classification, they shall be arranged in alphabetical order.
    3. If any judicial offices listed in subdivision (c)(1) are to be placed on the ballot as a yes/no retention question, the question shall be placed at the end of the ballot.
    1. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or this title, on general election ballots, the name of each political party having nominees on the ballot shall be listed in the following order: majority party, minority party, and recognized minor party, if any. The names of the political party candidates shall be alphabetically listed underneath the appropriate column for the candidate's party. A column for independent candidates shall follow the recognized minor party, or if there is not a recognized minor party on the ballot, shall follow the minority party, with the listing of the candidates' names alphabetically underneath.
    2. On nonpartisan general election ballots and on the political party's primary ballot, the names of all candidates for the same office shall be arranged alphabetically according to the initials of their surnames, beginning with the first initial.
  3. No number may be prefixed before or affixed after the names of candidates for any office so as to designate by number the order in which candidates' names are on the ballot for any office. The limitation set out in this subsection (e) does not prohibit the printing of numerals on the face of punch cards or ballots used with the microvote electronic voting system.
    1. Whenever a question is submitted to the vote of the people, it shall be placed at the end of the ballot, followed by the words “Yes” and “No”, so that the voter can vote a preference by making a cross mark (X) opposite the proper word. If a retention judicial question is on the ballot as provided for in subdivision (c)(3), this question shall be placed after the retention judicial question; provided, that whenever the question of a state constitutional amendment is submitted to the vote of the people pursuant to article XI, § 3, paragraph 1 of the Tennessee Constitution, it shall be printed upon the ballot directly after the list of candidates for governor followed by the words “Yes” and “No”, so that the voter can vote a preference by making a cross mark (X) opposite the proper word. Any question submitted to the people shall be worded in such a manner that a “yes” vote would indicate support for the measure and a “no” vote would indicate opposition.
      1. If the full statement of a question is more than three hundred (300) words in length, the question shall be preceded by a brief summary of the proposal written in a clear and coherent manner using words with common everyday meanings. Such summary shall not exceed two hundred (200) words in length. The summary shall be written by the attorney general and reporter for questions submitted to the voters of the entire state or of more than one (1) county or by the county attorney of the county in which the question is to be voted upon for questions to be submitted to the voters of one (1) county or any part of a county. The summary for questions submitted to the voters of a municipality shall be written by the city attorney of the municipality in which the question is to be voted upon.
      2. Notwithstanding subdivision (f)(2)(A), if the question is a state constitutional amendment, the question shall be preceded by a brief summary of the proposal written in a clear and coherent manner using words with common everyday meanings. Such summary shall not exceed two hundred (200) words in length. The summary shall be written by the attorney general and reporter.
  4. The ballot for each political party's presidential preference primary shall be headed “Candidates of the Party for President of the United States.” Beneath the heading shall be “I declare my preference for candidate for the office of President of the United States to be:” followed by the names of the candidates.
  5. The names of presidential candidates shall be arranged according to political parties, and followed by the words, (giving the name) for president and (giving the name) for vice president. Names of electors need not appear on the ballot.
  6. When there are so many candidates for an office that their names will not all fit either horizontally or vertically on the ballot with the name of the office, the names shall be listed in alphabetical rotation from left to right in each necessary row in the following manner:

    [ ] ADAMS  [ ] BLACK   [ ] CONWAY

    [ ] SMITH   [ ] THOMAS  [ ]  THOMS

    [ ] VADEN

  7. Each state primary board shall prescribe a color for its party's primary ballots which shall be uniform throughout the state and different from every other party's.
  8. At the time of qualification for judge of the supreme court, the candidate shall state on the qualifying petition the grand division in which the candidate resides and the particular seat on the supreme court for which the candidate seeks election. The county election commission shall cause the names of the candidates to be arranged on the ballot so as to denote the grand division for which they are seeking to be elected or whether they are candidates from the state at large by prefixing to the names of the candidates the words “eastern,” “western” or “middle” division or “the state at large.”
  9. On ballots in a referendum election held by a local government, any question submitted to the vote of the people shall be printed followed by the words “Yes” and “No”, so that the voter can vote a preference by making a cross mark (X) opposite the proper word. Any question submitted to the people shall be worded in such a manner that a “yes” vote would indicate support for the measure and a “no” vote would indicate opposition.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 708, § 1; 1975, ch. 353, § 4; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 22, 36; Acts 1978, ch. 934, § 29; T.C.A., §§ 2-308, 2-514; Acts 1981, ch. 110, § 1; 1981, ch. 246, § 1; 1981, ch. 300, § 1; 1983, ch. 20, § 1; 1988, ch. 672, § 3; 1990, ch. 628, § 5; 1995, ch. 305, § 56; 1996, ch. 574, § 1; 1997, ch. 331, § 2; 1997, ch. 558, § 5; 2000, ch. 756, §§ 9, 10, 11; 2000, ch. 883, § 2; 2003, ch. 90, § 2; 2003, ch. 183, § 1; 2007, ch. 125, § 9; 2011, ch. 257, § 3; 2013, ch. 231, § 6; 2016, ch. 579, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2003, ch. 90, § 2, directed the code commission to change all references from “county executive” to “county mayor” and to include all such changes in supplements and replacement volumes for the Tennessee Code Annotated.

Acts 2000, ch. 883, § 1 provided that the act may be cited as the “Fair Ballot Access Act of 2000.”

Amendments. The 2016 amendment added (f)(2)(B).

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 579, § 2. March 10, 2016.

Cross-References. Grand divisions, title 4, ch. 1, part 2.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

Attorney General Opinions. Election officials are bound by law to use the title “county mayors” and not “county executives” on primary and general election ballots for that office after July 1, 2003, OAG 03-096 (8/13/03).

Form and layout of ballot used on voting machines, OAG 06-154 (10/5/06).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Requirement under T.C.A. § 2-5-208(d)(1) that ballot nominees be listed in the order of the majority party, the minority party, and recognized minor parties violated the parties'  constitutional right to equal protection of the laws, since the preferential placement of the majority party candidates on election ballots provided an impermissible voting cue that violated the constitutional rights of the minor parties. Green Party of Tenn. Constitution Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 882 F. Supp. 2d 959, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13765 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2012), rev'd, Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

District court wrongly held that T.C.A. § 2-5-208(d)(1) was facially unconstitutional because there was no evidentiary record against which to assess plaintiffs'  assertions that voters would be confused or influenced by the position of the names on the ballot. Green Party v. Hargett, 2012 FED App. 397P, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24645 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2012).

T.C.A. § 2-5-208(d)(1), defining candidates' order on ballots, violated equal protection because preferential ballot placement prejudiced minor parties. Green Party v. Hargett, 953 F. Supp. 2d 816, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91393 (M.D. Tenn. June 17, 2013), rev'd, Green Party of Tenn. v. Hargett, 767 F.3d 533, 2014 FED App. 201P (6th Cir.), 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16207 (6th Cir. Tenn. 2014).

2. Proposal.

There was no legislative intent to construe “full statement” in subsection (f) as meaning the same as “proposal.” Rodgers v. White, 528 S.W.2d 810, 1975 Tenn. LEXIS 629 (Tenn. 1975).

“Proposal” in former subsection (f) meant the complete proposition, to be approved or rejected by the people. Rodgers v. White, 528 S.W.2d 810, 1975 Tenn. LEXIS 629 (Tenn. 1975).

3. Question.

“Question” in subsection (f) refers to the question that is placed upon the ballot. Rodgers v. White, 528 S.W.2d 810, 1975 Tenn. LEXIS 629 (Tenn. 1975).

2-5-209. Number of paper ballots for each precinct — Number reserved for emergency use — Use of ballot-on-demand technology.

  1. The coordinator of elections shall determine the minimum number of paper ballots furnished to each precinct on election day and the number of paper ballots to be held in reserve by the county election commission for emergency use.
  2. Any county election commission desiring to use ballot-on-demand technology must have approval by the coordinator of elections sixty (60) days before any election.
    1. The coordinator of elections and the state election commission must provide an approved list of available ballot-on-demand technology vendors from which the county election commission must select for use.
    2. Prior to the county election commission voting to utilize ballot-on-demand technology, the county election commission must hold a public meeting with an opportunity for public comment.
    3. During the public meeting held pursuant to subdivision (b)(2), the county election commission must provide election officials and members of the public who are present an opportunity to have demonstrated to them the ballot-on-demand technology machines and the opportunity to experiment with the ballot-on-demand technology machines being considered for use in the county.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 441, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-515; Acts 1988, ch. 672, § 2; 2006, ch. 642, § 3; 2010, ch. 612, § 8; 2011, ch. 342, § 1.

2-5-210. Instruction cards.

The coordinator of elections shall provide the county election commission with instruction cards for each polling place in large, clear type. The instruction cards shall contain full instructions for the guidance of voters in obtaining ballots or admission to voting machines, in casting their votes, in obtaining assistance, and in obtaining new ballots in place of those accidentally spoiled or in moving from an inoperative machine to a functioning one.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-516.

2-5-211. Sample ballots.

  1. The county election commission shall provide two (2) sample ballots for each polling place, arranged in the manner of the paper ballots for the polling place where voting machines are not used, but arranged in the form of a diagram showing the part of the face of the voting machine in use at that election where voting machines are used. Sample ballots may be either full or reduced size and shall contain suitable illustrated instructions for voting; provided, that in any county in which the votomatic punch card system is used, the county election commission may use copies of the guide page ballot as sample ballots.
  2. At least five (5) days before the beginning of an early voting period and at least five (5) days before an election, the county election commission shall:
    1. Publish a sample ballot in a newspaper of general circulation. Where voting machines are used, the sample ballot shall be the machine sample ballot. The sample ballot shall contain the names of all candidates and all offices and a statement of all questions on which voters may vote. A sample ballot does not have to be published in a newspaper of general circulation if a sample ballot that complies with this section has been mailed at least five (5) days prior to the beginning of the early voting period to every active registered voter. If more than one (1) registered voter is at the same address, then only one (1) sample ballot may be sent to that address; and
    2. Post a sample ballot on a web site maintained by the county election commission or, if the county election commission does not have or maintain a web site, on the web site maintained by the secretary of state. The sample ballot shall contain the names of all candidates and all offices and a statement of all questions on which voters may vote.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-517; Acts 1981, ch. 240, § 1; 1995, ch. 88, § 11; 2004, ch. 480, § 5; 2008, ch. 1066, § 1; 2013, ch. 179, § 3.

Cross-References. Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

2-5-212. [Repealed.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-5-212 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-518), concerning the requirement of a model of a machine at polls for voters' instruction, was repealed by Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 3. For current law, see §§ 2-5-210 and 2-5-213.

2-5-213. Instruction facilities for voters.

The county election commission shall, where voting machines are used, provide adequate facilities for the instruction of voters prior to each election. The commission shall have in one (1) or more convenient public places a voting machine with samples of ballot labels affixed for the purpose of instructing voters in the operation of the machine. The samples of ballot labels may not contain the names of or names similar to those of candidates in the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-519.

2-5-214. Ballot boxes.

  1. The county election commission shall furnish for each polling place and for absentee voting at the commission office, locks and standard ballot boxes made of metal or such other material deemed as safe, durable, and secure by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission.
  2. The coordinator of elections shall prescribe the dimensions for such boxes, making allowance for the differences in numbers of voters using paper ballots at the various polling places.
  3. The county election commission shall prescribe and provide the type of lock and seals to be used.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-520; Acts 1985, ch. 78, § 1; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 15, 21; 1994, ch. 859, § 9.

Cross-References. Sealed absentee ballots, § 2-6-311.

2-5-215. Bound duplicate registration records.

The county election commission shall provide for each polling place at all elections the bound duplicate registration records of all persons registered at the polling place.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-521.

2-5-216. Supplies for each polling place.

  1. The county election commission shall provide for each polling place:
    1. Duplicate poll list forms on which to list the names of voters made so that writing on one (1) sheet makes an exact copy on the second sheet, and duplicate poll books;
    2. The application for ballot forms shall contain a certification by the applicant that the applicant is a registered and qualified voter in the precinct in which the applicant is offering to vote and requests a ballot to vote in the election. The application shall contain a space for the initials of the precinct registrar approving the application and for ballot numbers and shall contain a printed application number. If a primary election is being held, the application shall include a place for the voter to indicate the voter's party;
    3. Duplicate tally sheets which shall include the name of each candidate and question to be voted on at the polling place in the order in which they appear on the ballot and blanks for the names of write-in candidates. There shall be a space with each name or question for recording votes by paper ballot and, where voting machines are used, by voting machine and the total vote; and
    4. Duplicate record sheets for counting paper ballots.
  2. If a county is using a computerized voter registration system which has been approved by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission, and if the county legislative body approves by resolution the use of a computer printout instead of the duplicate registration records, the county election commission shall provide for each polling place the following:
      1. A printout containing the names and addresses of all eligible voters at the polling place and a space for the signature of each voter;
      2. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b)(1)(A), in any county having a population of not less than seventy-seven thousand nine hundred (77,900) nor more than seventy-eight thousand (78,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census in which a computerized voter registration system which has been approved by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission is in use, the county election commission shall provide for each polling place a printout containing the names and addresses of all eligible voters at the polling place and a space for the signature of each voter. This use of the computerized printout at each polling place instead of both the printout and the duplicate registration records requires an authorizing resolution approved by the county legislative body by a two-thirds (2/3) vote;
    1. The application for ballot forms containing the certification required in subdivision (a)(2); provided, that ballot applications need not be provided in any county which uses Votomatic or a comparable punch card voting system;
    2. Duplicate tally sheets containing the information required in subdivision (a)(3); and
    3. Duplicate record sheets for counting paper ballots.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-522; Acts 1989, ch. 590, § 3; 1990, ch. 953, § 1; 1990, ch. 954, § 1; 1990, ch. 956, § 1; 1990, ch. 959, § 1; 1990, ch. 1020, § 1; 1990, ch. 1084, § 1; 1991, ch. 99, § 1; 1991, ch. 302, § 1; 1992, ch. 536, §§ 1, 2; 2004, ch. 480, § 6.

Code Commission Notes.

Acts 1992, ch. 536, § 3 provided that any approval granted under prior law by a county legislative body prior to March 12, 1992, shall continue in full force and effect until such approval is revoked by a comparable action of a county legislative body.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Cross-References. Additional supplies, § 2-3-108.

Ballot supplies for persons with visual impairments, § 2-5-218.

Number of paper ballots for each polling place, § 2-5-209.

2-5-217. Ballot boxes paid for by state.

All ballot boxes shall be paid for by the state.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-523.

Compiler's Notes. This section may be affected by § 9-1-116, concerning entitlement to funds, absent appropriation.

2-5-218. Ballot supplies for persons with visual impairments.

  1. All nominating petitions, instruction cards, application for ballot forms, and the rules and regulations regarding qualifying for public office may be made available in large print, and in recorded form for citizens of Tennessee with visual impairments. The above named documents and recordings must be available only at the main county election commission office.
  2. The state's share of the funding for the implementation of this section shall be derived from state taxes currently being shared with local governments.

Acts 1979, ch. 190, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 2-524; Acts 1982, ch. 871, § 2.

Cross-References. Assistance to blind voters, § 2-7-116.

2-5-219. Candidates nominated by write-in votes — Withdrawal of name.

  1. Notwithstanding any other general law, or special act, or municipal charter to the contrary, no write-in candidate in a primary election for a position as a county or municipal official shall have such candidate's name placed upon the ballot in the election for such position unless such candidate received not less than twenty-five (25) votes.
  2. If a candidate is nominated as prescribed in subsection (a) by write-in votes, such a nominated candidate may withdraw from the nomination by filing a letter of withdrawal with the county election commission not later than ten (10) days after the primary election wherein such candidate was nominated.

Acts 1982, ch. 607, §§ 1, 2.

Collateral References.

Challenges to Write-in Ballots and Certification of Write-in Candidates. 75 A.L.R.6th 311.

2-5-151. Petitions for recall, referendum or initiative.

Chapter 6
Absentee Voting

Part 1
Purpose and Early Voting

2-6-101. Purpose of chapter and part — Construction.

  1. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a means for qualified voters to cast their votes when they would otherwise be unable to vote.
  2. The purpose of this part is to establish an early voting period when eligible registered voters may vote before an election at the county election commission office or another polling place appropriately designated by the county election commission.
  3. To prevent fraud in an election, strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter is required.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-601; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1995, ch. 88, § 9.

Compiler's Notes. Former chapter 6 was rearranged by Acts 1994, ch. 859, which divided the chapter into five parts, and transferred or repealed the existing sections. The following table lists the sections in former chapter 6 and indicates their new location, if any, in parts 1-5 of this chapter.

Former Sections New Sections

2-6-101 2-6-101

2-6-102 2-6-201

2-6-103 2-6-103

2-6-104 2-6-105

2-6-105 2-6-106

2-6-106 2-6-501

2-6-107 2-6-107

2-6-108 2-6-108

2-6-109 2-6-102, 2-6-109

2-6-110 2-6-111

2-6-111 2-6-202

2-6-112 2-6-502

2-6-113 2-6-203

2-6-114 2-6-204

2-6-115 2-6-301

2-6-116 2-6-302

2-6-117 2-6-303

2-6-118 2-6-304

2-6-119 2-6-305

2-6-120 2-6-306

2-6-121 2-6-307

2-6-122 Repealed

2-6-123 2-6-308

2-6-124 Repealed

2-6-125 2-6-309

2-6-126 2-6-310

2-6-127 2-6-311

2-6-128 2-6-312

2-6-129 2-6-401

2-6-130 2-6-503

Former §§ 2-6-122 and 2-6-124 (Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 70, § 1; 1978, ch. 814, § 3; 1978, ch. 861, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-622; Acts 1991, ch. 184, § 4), concerning the forms for application for absentee voting by personal appearance and for certification of nonregistration, were repealed by Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Attorney General Opinions. Early voting at satellite locations, OAG 06-128 (8/15/06).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Federal Preemption.

Early voting does not conflict with federal enactments because the final selection is not made before the federal election day; without the final selection, the winning candidate is not elected. Millsaps v. Thompson, 96 F. Supp. 2d 720, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5768 (E.D. Tenn. 2000), aff'd, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

Under the Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS), the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder occur only on federal election day as required by federal law. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

The Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS) presents no obstacle to accomplishing the goals of the federal election day statutes; Tennessee's effort to increase voter participation does not conflict with, and is therefore not preempted by, the federal laws designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

2. Election Contest.

Judgment declaring the candidate's opponent the winner of the election was affirmed in accordance with T.R.A.P. 24(c) because the appellate court must presume that the evidence supported the trial court's findings and ultimate conclusion that the candidate had not proven that the two votes were illegal such that a new election should be ordered; in order for the candidate to prove that there were two illegal votes, he must demonstrate that the two voters voted by paper ballot when all others voters voted by machine, and that these two voters did not use a paper ballot because they were in need of assistance pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-7-116. Reinhardt v. Neal, 241 S.W.3d 472, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 368 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 919 (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 947 (Tenn. Oct. 22, 2007).

3. County Election Commissions.

Trial court erred in granting the city's motion for summary judgment and in denying the county election commission's motion for summary judgment in the commission's action seeking a declaration of its rights under election statutes, T.C.A. § 2-3-101 et seq. and § 2-6-101 et seq., because the commission had the sole responsibility to designate polling locations, and it was the duty of public building authorities to make public buildings available for voting. Williamson County Election Comm'n v. Webb, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2013), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 693 (Tenn. Aug. 13, 2013).

4. Attorney Fees.

Trial court erred in denying a county election commission attorneys'  fees and costs because the commission's request to use a library building was denied, and it was appropriate for the commission to seek clarification of its responsibilities under election statutes, T.C.A. § 2-3-101 et seq and § 2-6-101 et seq., as well as those of the city, for purposes of each performing its responsibilities in the future; accordingly, an award of attorneys'  fees pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-12-101(c)(4), was appropriate. Williamson County Election Comm'n v. Webb, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2013), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 693 (Tenn. Aug. 13, 2013).

Collateral References.

Construction and effect of absentee voters' laws. 97 A.L.R.2d 257.

Validity of absentee voters' laws. 97 A.L.R.2d 218.

2-6-102. Early voting applications — Ballots — Time for voting.

    1. A voter who desires to vote early shall go to the county election commission office or another polling place appropriately designated by the county election commission within the posted hours not more than twenty (20) days nor less than five (5) days before the day of the election. A voter desiring to vote in the early voting period shall sign an application for a ballot.
    2. The state coordinator shall supply or approve the form of the application for a ballot.
    1. Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2), in the case of a regular or special general election not held in conjunction with the regular August or November general elections, or held in conjunction with the May primary called pursuant to § 2-13-203 or the presidential preference primary, if there is no opposition for any of the offices involved, including any write-in candidate that has filed the appropriate notice pursuant to § 2-7-133(i), there shall not be an early voting period. In the case of a May primary called pursuant to § 2-13-203 or a special primary for state or federal offices, if there is no opposition on either primary ballot for any of the offices involved, including any write-in candidate that has filed the appropriate notice pursuant to § 2-8-113(c), there shall not be an early voting period.
    2. Subdivision (b)(1) shall not apply to municipal elections held in the largest municipality located in a county having a metropolitan form of government which has a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census.
  1. Notwithstanding subdivision (a)(1), when a presidential preference primary is held or an election is held at the same time as a presidential preference primary, a voter who desires to vote early for such elections shall go to the county election commission office within the posted hours not more than twenty (20) days nor less than seven (7) days before the day of the election. This subsection (c) shall not apply to voting pursuant to § 2-6-601.
  2. [Deleted by 2018 amendment.]

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-609; Acts 1982, ch. 665, § 2; 1991, ch. 69, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-6-109; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 2011, ch. 115, § 1; 2011, ch. 381, § 1; 2012, ch. 1101, § 5; 2016, ch. 650, § 1; 2018, ch. 842, §§ 3-5.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former section in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

For tables of population of Tennessee municipalities, and for U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2016 amendment added (d).

The 2018 amendment  rewrote (b)(1) which read: “(1)  Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2), in the case of a municipal election not held in conjunction with any primary election, the regular August or November general elections, or any special primary or special general election for state or federal offices, if there is no opposition, including any write-in candidate that has filed the appropriate notice pursuant to § 2-7-133(i), for any of the offices involved, there shall not be an early voting period.”; added the last sentence in (c); and deleted former (d) which read: “In the case of a special general election, if there is no opposition, including any write-in candidate that has filed the appropriate notice pursuant to § 2-7-133(i), for any of the offices involved and no other items are on the ballot, there shall not be an early voting period.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 650, § 2. July 1, 2016.

Acts 2018, ch. 842, § 6. April 26, 2018.

Law Reviews.

New Kind of Voter Suppression in Modern Elections, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1019 (Summer 2019).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Federal Preemption.

Under the Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS), the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder occur only on federal election day as required by federal law. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

The Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS) presents no obstacle to accomplishing the goals of the federal election day statutes; Tennessee's effort to increase voter participation does not conflict with, and is therefore not preempted by, the federal laws designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of early voting statutes. 29 A.L.R.6th 343.

2-6-103. County election commission office hours.

    1. The county election commission office or another polling place appropriately designated by the county election commission shall be open a minimum of three (3) consecutive hours each weekday including Saturdays between the hours of eight o'clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.) and six o'clock p.m. (6:00 p.m.) prevailing time during the period provided to apply to vote early. For a municipality with a population of less than five thousand (5,000), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, the municipal governing body may determine the Saturday schedule of early voting for municipal elections.
    2. If the proper notice under subsection (c) is made, a county election commission may close its office on a state holiday during the period established for early voting.
    1. On at least three (3) days during the early voting period for those offices listed in § 2-13-202, or for any state or federal election, the county election commission office shall remain open between four-thirty p.m. (4:30 p.m.) and seven o'clock p.m. (7:00 p.m.), and on at least one (1) Saturday during the same period the office shall be open from eight o'clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.) to four o'clock p.m. (4:00 p.m.). The county election commission shall determine the appropriate dates for both late and regular hours at the commission office. This subsection (b) shall apply only to those counties with a population in excess of one hundred fifty thousand (150,000), according to the 1970 census.
    2. In counties affected by this subsection (b), this subsection (b) shall also apply to municipal elections for the principal municipality of the county. For such municipal elections, the municipal governing body and the county election commission shall jointly determine the appropriate dates for additional hours. The municipality shall be responsible for the costs of such additional hours.
  1. Notice of the office hours shall be given by the county election commission not less than twenty-five (25) days prior to the day of election by publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 228, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-603; Acts 1985, ch. 238, §§ 1-4; 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12; 1996, ch. 1028, § 1; 2009, ch. 218, § 2; 2012, ch. 1101, § 6.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of population of Tennessee municipalities, and for U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Cross-References. Commission office hours during early voting period for convenient voting centers, § 2-3-307.

Newspaper of general circulation defined, § 2-1-104.

2-6-104. Voting machines for early voting.

  1. A county election commission may use voting machines for early voting. The county election commission shall choose one (1) of the following options for its method of early voting:
    1. Place all races on a machine ballot;
    2. Place some of the races on a machine ballot and part of the races on a paper ballot; or
    3. Place all races on a paper ballot.
    1. No single mechanical lever machine may have more than nine hundred ninety-nine (999) voters using a single machine during the early voting period.
    2. No single direct recording electronic (DRE) voting system may have more than nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine (9,999) voters using a single machine during the early voting period.
  2. The county election commission shall secure each voting machine used in early voting to prohibit tampering and shall also provide maximum security that allows no other person, except for persons designated by the election commission or the administrator of elections, to have access to the room or facility in which the voting machines, ballots and other election supplies are stored.
  3. The coordinator of elections shall, in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, promulgate rules and regulations for use of voting machines for early voting. These rules and regulations shall include appropriate provisions for the security of the machines.

Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1997, ch. 558, § 18.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former section in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Election Contest.

Judgment declaring the candidate's opponent the winner of the election was affirmed in accordance with T.R.A.P. 24(c), because the appellate court must presume that the evidence supported the trial court's findings and ultimate conclusion that the candidate had not proven that the two votes were illegal such that a new election should be ordered; in order for the candidate to prove that there were two illegal votes, he must demonstrate that the two voters voted by paper ballot when all others voters voted by machine, and that these two voters did not use a paper ballot because they were in need of assistance pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-7-116. Reinhardt v. Neal, 241 S.W.3d 472, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 368 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 919 (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 947 (Tenn. Oct. 22, 2007).

Collateral References.

Validity, construction, and application of early voting statutes. 29 A.L.R.6th 343.

2-6-105. Voter assistance — Assistance by person convicted of voter fraud prohibited.

  1. Persons voting early are entitled to the same assistance in voting they would be entitled to if they appeared to vote on election day. The procedures under § 2-7-116 govern how assistance should be given.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person convicted of voter fraud in any state shall not assist a person in voting under this section.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-604; Acts 1980, ch. 638, § 9; T.C.A., § 2-6-104; Acts 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12; 1995, ch. 88, § 1; 2019, ch. 271, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former section in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment added (b).

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 271, § 5. April 30, 2019.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Election Contest.

Judgment declaring the candidate's opponent the winner of the election was affirmed in accordance with T.R.A.P. 24(c), because the appellate court must presume that the evidence supported the trial court's findings and ultimate conclusion that the candidate had not proven that the two votes were illegal such that a new election should be ordered; in order for the candidate to prove that there were two illegal votes, he must demonstrate that the two voters voted by paper ballot when all others voters voted by machine, and that these two voters did not use a paper ballot because they were in need of assistance pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-7-116. Reinhardt v. Neal, 241 S.W.3d 472, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 368 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 919 (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 947 (Tenn. Oct. 22, 2007).

2-6-106. Voter unable to write signature or make mark — Assistance by person convicted of voter fraud prohibited.

  1. If an applicant or voter is so disabled that the applicant or voter cannot write a signature or make a mark where required, the action of the person who offers assistance shall be witnessed by one (1) additional person. Both the person giving assistance and the witness shall sign their names and provide their addresses.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person convicted of voter fraud in any state shall not assist a person in voting under this section.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-605; Acts 1980, ch. 638, § 10; T.C.A., § 2-6-105; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 2019, ch. 271, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former section in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment added (b).

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 271, § 5. April 30, 2019.

2-6-107. Application and supplies limited.

The election commission shall furnish only one (1) application for early voting or one (1) set of early voting supplies to any voter unless the voter notifies the commission that the voter has spoiled the application or notifies the commission that the voter has not received the application or voting supplies. If so, the commission shall supply the voter with a subsequent application or supplies. The commission shall note on the records that a subsequent application or supplies have been sent.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-607; Acts 1993, ch. 518, § 7; 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12.

2-6-108. Attesting officials.

In each county, the county election commissioners of the minority party may appoint one (1) early voting deputy who shall receive as compensation for each day spent in such service the same pay as an election official in the county for which such person is appointed.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 305, §§ 1, 2; 1979, ch. 306, § 12; T.C.A., § 2-608; Acts 1982, ch. 566, § 1; 1988, ch. 651, § 1; 1988, ch. 933, § 8; 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12; 1995, ch. 88, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-109. Verification of signature — Voting — Affidavits — Voting booths.

    1. Upon completion of the application, the administrator of elections shall compare the signature of the voter with the signature on the voter's permanent registration record, or other evidence of identification if computerized duplicate registration records are used, and shall endorse on the application that the two (2) signatures are, or are not, the same. The administrator shall make a determination whether the voter's address is different from the address on the voter's permanent registration record or if the registration is in inactive status. If the voter has changed residence, or the voter's registration is inactive, the administrator shall follow the procedures for voting pursuant to § 2-7-140. Upon determination that the voter is entitled to vote early in the election, the administrator shall hand to the voter, after recording the ballot number on the voter's permanent registration record:
      1. Instructions; and
      2. One (1) early voting ballot or one (1) primary early voting ballot or both.
    2. In a computerized county, the administrator may record the ballot number on the computer-generated duplicate registration record or the voter's application to vote.
  1. The voter shall show the unmarked ballot to the early voting official, mark the ballot in secret at the place provided in the commission office, either fold the ballot or place it in a secrecy sleeve provided by the election commission in order to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, and return to the early voting official.
    1. The early voting official shall direct the voter to the correct general election early voting ballot box and/or party primary early voting ballot box according to the election and precinct in which the voter voted. The voter shall deposit the ballot in the appropriate ballot box or boxes.
    2. Except in cases in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, the attesting official shall, in the presence of the voter, note on the voter's duplicate permanent registration record that the voter has voted early in the election and in every case, including those counties in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, record the voter's name on the early voting poll book for each election in which the voter voted.
    3. In those counties in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, the attesting official shall update the voter's computerized voter history by making the appropriate data entry.
  2. A county election commission may use any voting machine authorized for use under chapter 9 of this title for early voting.
  3. The county election commission must provide a place where the voter may mark the ballot in complete secrecy and privacy.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 316, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-609; Acts 1982, ch. 665, § 2; 1988, ch. 993, §§ 1, 2; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1991, ch. 69, § 1; 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12; 1995, ch. 88, §§ 3-5; 1997, ch. 550, § 6; 1997, ch. 558, § 15.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former subsection (a) in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-110. Early voting application — Uniform forms.

The coordinator of elections shall adopt a uniform form for each county election commission for an application for early voting.

Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

2-6-111. Filling out application to vote early.

The administrator of elections shall fill out the application to vote early except for the applicant's signature or mark.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-610, 2-6-110; Acts 1994, ch. 859, §§ 2, 12; 1995, ch. 88, § 6.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer of former section in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Form of affidavit, § 2-6-109.

Form of application, § 2-6-110.

2-6-112. Satellite voting location — Option not to have early voting.

  1. Upon the request of a municipality, for elections at a time other than the regular August or regular November election, the county election commission shall establish a satellite voting location for early voting within the corporate limits of such municipality. The municipality shall be responsible for the costs of such voting location.
  2. Upon the request of a municipality that has established a satellite voting location under subsection (a), the county election commission may choose not to have early voting at the county election commission office.

Acts 2000, ch. 593, § 1; 2006, ch. 642, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. For transfer or repeal of former § 2-6-112 in 1994, see the Compiler's Notes under § 2-6-101.

2-6-113. Designation of satellite location outside boundaries of one of counties where municipality lies in two or more counties.

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if a municipality is located within two (2) or more counties of the state, then the county election commissions of each respective county may, by written mutual agreement of the counties, designate one (1) satellite location for early voting outside the boundaries of one (1) of the respective counties; provided, that the location for early voting is within the limits of the municipality and within five hundred feet (500') of the county boundary line.

Acts 2014, ch. 697, § 2.

Effective Dates. Acts 2014, ch. 697, § 3. April 15, 2014.

Part 2
Absentee Voting

2-6-201. Methods of voting absentee.

A registered voter in any of the following circumstances may vote absentee by mail in the procedures outlined in this part:

  1. Persons Outside of County.  If the voter will be outside the county where the voter is registered during the early voting period and on election day during all the hours the polls are open for any reason other than the fact that the voter will be imprisoned;
  2. Students and Spouses Outside of County.  If a voter is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college, university or similar accredited institution of learning in this state which is outside the county where the voter is registered. This provision also applies to the spouse of the student who resides with the student;
    1. Permanent Absentee Voting Register.  The county election commission shall establish a permanent absentee voting register for any person who is, because of sickness, hospitalization or physical disability unable to appear at either the commission office or at the person's polling place for the purpose of voting. To be eligible for placement on the register, a voter shall file a statement by the person's licensed physician with the county election commission stating, under the penalty of perjury, that in the physician's professional medical judgment, the patient (voter) is medically unable to appear at the polling place to vote and is medically unable to go to the commission office for the purpose of early voting. The voter shall file the physician's statement and the application not less than seven (7) days before the election. The administrator of elections shall attach the physician's statement to the voter's permanent registration record. Without any further request, the administrator shall send to each person placed on the permanent absentee voting register an application for an absentee ballot for each election in which the person may vote;
    2. Residents of Certain Institutions.  In the case of individuals who are full-time residents of any licensed nursing home, home for the aged or similar licensed institution providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the voter's county of residence, the procedure for voting shall substantially follow the provisions established in subdivision (3)(A) for voters on the permanent absentee voting register, or the voter may vote under the procedures established in subdivision (1) for voters outside of the county;
  3. Jurors.  If an individual expects to be unable to appear during the early voting period or at the polling place on election day because the person is serving as a juror for a federal or state court;
  4. Persons Over 60 — Persons Hospitalized, Ill or Disabled.
    1. A person sixty (60) years of age or older when the person requests to vote absentee;
    2. The person is a voter with a disability as defined in § 2-3-109, and the voter's polling place is inaccessible;
    3. The person is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled, and because of such condition, the person is unable to appear at the person's polling place on election day; or
    4. The person is a caretaker of a hospitalized, ill or disabled person;
  5. Candidates for Office.  Without stating any reason therefor, if the voter is a candidate for office in the election for which the voter seeks to cast an absentee ballot;
  6. Election Officials — Election Commission Members or Employees.  If the person is an election official or a member or employee of the election commission on election day;
  7. Observance of a Religious Holiday.  If the voter cannot appear during the early voting period or at the polling place because of observance of a religious holiday; or
  8. Persons Possessing a Valid Commercial Driver License or Transportation Worker Identification Credential.  A voter who possesses a valid commercial driver license or a valid transportation worker identification credential and who certifies that the voter:
    1. Will be working outside of the county or state where the voter is registered during the early voting period and on election day during all the hours the polls are open; and
    2. Has no specific out-of-county or out-of-state location to which mail may be sent or received during such time;

      may complete an application to vote absentee by mail at the voter's county election commission office or complete an absentee by-mail application pursuant to § 2-6-202(a)(3); provided, that if applicable, such voter satisfies the requirements of § 2-2-115(b)(7). In order for the absentee application to be processed, the voter must provide a photocopy of the commercial driver license or transportation worker identification credential, the commercial driver license number on the voter's current commercial driver license, if applicable, and provide a current residential address and a mailing address to which the ballot shall be mailed. This subdivision (9) also applies to the spouse of the person who possesses the commercial driver license.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1973, ch. 399, § 1; 1975, ch. 133, § 1; 1975, ch. 381, § 1; 1978, ch. 814, §§ 1, 2; 1978, ch. 861, §§ 1, 4; 1979, ch. 316, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-602; Acts 1980, ch. 638, §§ 4-6, 8; 1983, ch. 450, § 3; 1985, ch. 90, § 1; 1986, ch. 763, § 1; 1989, ch. 455, § 1; 1990, ch. 731, § 1; 1991, ch. 70, § 1; 1991, ch. 71, §§ 1, 2; 1991, ch. 184, § 3; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 8-10, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-102; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1997, ch. 558, §§ 11, 20; 2003, ch. 33, § 1; 2007, ch. 48, § 3; 2008, ch. 928, § 11; 2012, ch. 1037, § 1; 2013, ch. 231, § 7; 2017, ch. 245, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment, in (5)(A), substituted “sixty (60) years of age” for “sixty-five (65) years of age”, and deleted the former proviso at the end which read: “; provided, however, that between May 21, 2012, and July 1, 2017, a person sixty (60) years of age or older may vote absentee, when the person requests to vote absentee;”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 245, § 6.  May 2, 2017.

Cross-References. Absentee voting procedure required in runoff election following primary for municipal office, § 2-3-206.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

New Kind of Voter Suppression in Modern Elections, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1019 (Summer 2019).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Provisions of this section expressly prohibiting incarcerated persons from utilizing the absentee ballot denied those incarcerated persons who had not been convicted of an infamous crime and who were otherwise entitled to vote equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution. Tate v. Collins, 496 F. Supp. 205, 1980 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13354 (W.D. Tenn. 1980).

In a declaratory judgment action challenging the constitutionality of the Tennessee Voter Identification Act (the Act), T.C.A. § 2-7-112(a)(1)(B), the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the photo identification (ID) requirement is a logical method of protecting the integrity of elections by combating voter fraud and that requiring a person to provide government-issued photo ID is a practical, narrowly tailored means for the State to guard against the risk of voter impersonation. City of Memphis v. Hargett, 414 S.W.3d 88, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 779 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013), substituted opinion, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 1101 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).

Registered voters without special vulnerability to COVID-19 were unlikely to succeed on their claims that the State's construction of T.C.A. § 2-6-201(5)(C) and (D) violated Tenn. Const. art. 1, § 5, where the burden on the right to vote was moderate given that the risk for in-person voting was significantly less than for those vulnerable to the virus, and when weighed against the State's interests in voter fraud prevention, fiscal responsibility, and feasibility, the moderate burden placed on the right to vote was justified. Fisher v. Hargett, 604 S.W.3d 381, 2020 Tenn. LEXIS 283 (Tenn. Aug. 5, 2020).

2. Federal Preemption.

Under the Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS), the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder occur only on federal election day as required by federal law. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

The Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS) presents no obstacle to accomplishing the goals of the federal election day statutes; Tennessee's effort to increase voter participation does not conflict with, and is therefore not preempted by, the federal laws designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

3. Strict Compliance.

The provisions for absentee voting must be strictly observed. Lanier v. Revell, 605 S.W.2d 821, 1980 Tenn. LEXIS 500 (Tenn. 1980).

In determining how strictly absentee ballot provisions should be construed, court looked to extrinsic evidence to support applications for absentee ballots, and held technical omission did not invalidate the ballots where deputy compared the signatures on the applications, found them to be the same, yet failed to so indicate on the application; the procedural safeguard was not the marking on the application but the comparing of signatures, and this had been done. Foust v. May, 660 S.W.2d 487, 1983 Tenn. LEXIS 724 (Tenn. 1983).

4. Violations.

Violation of the absentee voting statutes presents the opportunity for fraud, whether committed or intended and where there is proof of actual fraud only, or a violation of statutory safeguards only, or a combination of the two, the issue is whether or not those acts, viewed cumulatively, compel the conclusion that the election did not express the free and fair will of the qualified voters. Emery v. Robertson County Election Comm'n, 586 S.W.2d 103, 1979 Tenn. LEXIS 491 (Tenn. 1979).

5. Absence from State or Country.

The statutory requirement that a voter be outside either the state or country on election day in order to be afforded the benefit of absentee measures is riddled with exceptions. Tate v. Collins, 496 F. Supp. 205, 1980 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13354 (W.D. Tenn. 1980).

6. Physician's Statement.

A person may vote absentee if due to hospitalization, illness or physical disability the person will be unable to appear at his polling place on election day and it is not necessary that a declaration that the person will be unable to appear be supported by a physician's statement unless the person is attempting to be placed on a permanent register. Millar v. Thomas, 657 S.W.2d 750, 1983 Tenn. LEXIS 727 (Tenn. 1983).

2-6-202. Voting absentee — Applications — Ballots.

    1. A voter who desires to vote absentee shall request an absentee ballot not more than ninety (90) and not later than seven (7) days before the election;
    2. A voter who will be outside of the state on election day and during the period established for early voting may complete an application to vote absentee at the voter's county election commission office;
    3. A voter may also request from the county election commission office an application to vote absentee. A voter may make the request or submit an application to vote by mail, facsimile transmission or e-mail with an attached document that includes a scanned signature. For a voter to use a facsimile transmission, an election commission shall have a facsimile machine physically located in the election commission office. The request shall be in writing over the voter's signature. The request serves as an application for a ballot if the request contains the following information:
      1. The name of the registered voter;
      2. The address of the voter's residence;
      3. The voter's date of birth;
      4. The voter's social security number;
      5. The address to mail the ballot outside the county, if applicable;
      6. The election the voter wishes to participate in; and
      7. The reason the voter wishes to vote absentee.
    4. This subsection (a) does not and may not be construed to require a county election commission to purchase or obtain a facsimile machine.
  1. Upon receipt of a written request, the administrator of elections shall compare the signature of the voter with the signature on the voter's registration record in whatever form. If the signatures are the same and if the required information is provided, the administrator shall mail the voter a ballot in accordance with subsection (d). If the signatures are not the same, the administrator shall reject the application or request. If the required information is not provided, the administrator shall send the voter by mail or facsimile an application for a ballot.
    1. The coordinator of elections shall either supply to a county election commission the forms for applications for ballots or approve the usage of a county's forms.
    2. The election commission shall furnish only one (1) application for absentee voting or one (1) set of absentee voting supplies to any voter unless the voter notifies the commission that the voter has spoiled the application or notifies the commission that the voter has not received the application or voting supplies. If so, the commission shall supply the voter with a subsequent application or supplies. The commission shall note on the records that a subsequent application or supplies have been sent.
    3. A person who is not an employee of an election commission commits a Class E felony if such person gives an application for an absentee ballot to any person.
    4. A person who is not an employee of an election commission commits a Class A misdemeanor if such person gives an unsolicited request for application for absentee ballot to any person.
    5. Unless otherwise required by federal law, the county election commission shall retain a spoiled application for a ballot for six (6) months.
    6. Any information regarding absentee requests and applications shall be confidential and not subject to the open records law, compiled in title 10, chapter 7, until the end of the early voting period.
    1. Upon receipt of a completed application, the administrator shall verify the signature of the voter by comparing it with the signature on the voter's registration record in whatever form. The administrator shall make a determination whether the voter's address is different from the address on the voter's permanent registration record or if the registration is in inactive status. If the voter has changed residence, or the voter's registration is inactive, the administrator shall follow the procedures for voting pursuant to § 2-7-140. If the administrator determines that the voter may vote absentee, the administrator shall record the ballot number on the voter's application to vote and mail the voter the following:
      1. Instructions;
      2. One (1) absentee ballot or one (1) primary absentee ballot, or both;
      3. One (1) absentee ballot envelope for each election in which the voter will vote; and
      4. A larger envelope, unsealed, which shall bear upon its face the name and address of the county election commission to which the voter shall mail the completed materials.
    2. An administrator may not mail any of the materials with the address “general delivery.”
    3. An administrator may not process an application for a ballot received after the seventh day before an election.
  2. After receiving the absentee voting supplies and completing the ballot, the voter shall sign the appropriate affidavit under penalty of perjury. The effect of the signature is to verify the information as true and correct and that the voter is eligible to vote in the election. The voter shall then mail the ballot.
  3. The election commission shall furnish only one (1) set of absentee voting supplies to any voter unless the voter notifies the commission that the voter has spoiled the supplies or notifies the commission that the voter has not received the supplies. If so, the commission shall supply the voter with a subsequent set of supplies. The commission shall note on the records that subsequent supplies have been sent. Unless otherwise required by federal law, the county election commission shall retain a spoiled ballot for six (6) months.
  4. Upon receipt by mail of the absentee ballot, the administrator shall open only the outer envelope and compare the voter's signature on the application with the voter's signature on the appropriate registration record. Upon determining that the voter is entitled to vote, the administrator shall note on the voter's absentee ballot envelope that the voter's signature has been verified. This signature verification is the final verification necessary before the counting board counts the ballots. The administrator shall also record that the voter has voted absentee in the election and in every case, including those counties in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, shall record the voter's name on the absentee poll book for each election in which the voter voted. In those counties in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, the administrator shall update the voter's computerized voter history by making the appropriate data entry. The administrator shall then immediately deposit the absentee ballot envelope in the general election absentee ballot box or in the party's primary absentee ballot box as the case may be.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 336, § 1; 1979, ch. 316, § 4; T.C.A., § 2-611; Acts 1980, ch. 638, §§ 1-3; 1983, ch. 174, § 1; 1983, ch. 450, § 4; 1988, ch. 933, §§ 9, 12, 15; 1988, ch. 993, §§ 3-5; 1989, ch. 455, §§ 2, 3; 1989, ch. 590, § 6; 1991, ch. 69, § 2; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 5, 6, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-111; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1997, ch. 550, § 7; 1997, ch. 558, § 10; 2002, ch. 698, § 1; 2003, ch. 33, § 2; 2007, ch. 125, § 3; 2007, ch. 152, § 1; 2009, ch. 218, § 3; 2011, ch. 412, § 4; 2017, ch. 137, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment substituted “if applicable” for “except as provided in § 2-6-201(9)” at the end of (a)(3)(E).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 137, § 2. April 17, 2017.

Cross-References. Application for early and absentee voting, § 2-6-308.

Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Penalty for Class A misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Penalty for Class E felony, § 40-35-111.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Attorney General Opinions. Distribution of application request form by nonemployee of commission permitted, OAG 95-003 (1/6/95).

Provision of official application by nonemployee of commission prohibited, OAG 95-003 (1/6/95).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Federal Preemption.

Under the Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS), the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder occur only on federal election day as required by federal law designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

The Tennessee Early Voting System (TEVS) presents no obstacle to accomplishing the goals of the federal election day statutes; Tennessee's effort to increase voter participation does not conflict with, and is therefore not preempted by, the federal laws designating federal election day. Millsaps v. Thompson, 259 F.3d 535, 2001 FED App. 256P, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 17260 (6th Cir. 2001).

2. Comparing Signatures.

In determining how strictly absentee ballot provisions should be construed, court looked to extrinsic evidence to support applications for absentee ballots, and held technical omission did not invalidate the ballots where deputy compared the signatures on the applications, found them to be the same, yet failed to so indicate on the application; the procedural safeguard was not the marking on the application but the comparing of signatures, and this had been done. Foust v. May, 660 S.W.2d 487, 1983 Tenn. LEXIS 724 (Tenn. 1983).

2-6-203. Filling out application to vote by mail and voter's affidavit.

The voter may have anyone the voter chooses write the voter's request for an absentee ballot or for an absentee voting by mail application or write out the voter's absentee voting by mail application except for the voter's signature or mark.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-613, 2-6-113; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Cross-References. Form of affidavit, § 2-6-309.

Form of application, § 2-6-308.

2-6-204. Rejected applications and ballots.

    1. If a voter fails to provide required information on an absentee voting by mail application, the administrator shall mark the application “Rejected” and return it to the voter immediately by mail with a red circle marked around the space provided for the required information. The voter may then return the same application after supplying the required information.
    2. If a voter refuses to provide required information on any absentee voting application, the administrator shall mark the application “Rejected” and write the reason for rejection on the application. Notice of rejection shall immediately be given in writing to the applicant.
    3. If the administrator determines that an applicant is ineligible to vote absentee, the administrator shall mark the application “Rejected” and write the reason for rejection on the application. Notice of rejection shall immediately be given in writing to the applicant.
    4. If a county election commission receives an application for an absentee ballot by email with an attached document that includes a scanned signature, the administrator may send a notice of rejection by email with an attached document advising the voter of the reason for the rejection.
  1. If upon receipt of any absentee ballot the administrator determines that the ballot is not entitled to be cast under this title, the administrator shall mark the absentee ballot envelope “Rejected,” write the reason for the rejection on the envelope, and sign it. The absentee ballot envelope, unopened, shall be placed in a container of rejected absentee ballots for the election. Notice of the rejection shall immediately be given in writing to the voter.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-614, 2-6-114; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 2017, ch. 245, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2017 amendment added (a)(4).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 245, § 6.  May 2, 2017.

2-6-205. Absentee voting for voters registered as nonresident property owners.

In the case of individuals who, pursuant to § 2-2-107(a) are registered to vote in a municipality as nonresident property owners, the municipal legislative body may, by ordinance, direct such voters to cast the municipal ballots as absentee by mail ballots. Any municipal ordinance adopted pursuant to this section must be adopted and filed with the county election commission office no later than sixty (60) days before the election. Upon the filing of the municipal ordinance, a nonresident property owner may not thereafter vote in the election except by absentee ballot. No later than forty-five (45) days before the election, the election commission shall mail a notice to each voter registered as a nonresident property owner of the municipality advising the voter of the voting process and include an application for ballot for the municipal election. The election commission shall maintain a record of the municipal ordinance and shall not require a municipality to adopt subsequent ordinances, unless the municipality has repealed such ordinance since the last election.

Acts 2011, ch. 412, § 5.

2-6-206. Absentee ballots for person participating in address confidentiality program.

The following shall apply to registered voters who are participants in the address confidentiality program in accordance with title 40, chapter 38, part 6:

  1. Following certification as a program participant by the secretary of state, and without any further request, the administrator of elections shall send to each person participating in the address confidentiality program an application for an absentee ballot for each election in which the person may vote. A voter may submit an application to vote by mail, facsimile transmission, or email with an attached document that includes a scanned signature;
  2. The application shall contain the following information:
    1. The voter's address confidentiality program participant identification number;
    2. The election the voter wishes to participate in;
    3. A statement confirming that the voter's residence address on file with the address confidentiality program has not changed; and
    4. The voter's signature; and
  3. Without any further request, the administrator of elections shall compare the signature of the voter with the signature on the voter's registration record in whatever form. If the signatures are the same and if the required information is provided, the administrator shall mail the voter a ballot to the address the voter requested. If no address is requested then the absentee ballot shall be mailed to the substitute address listed with the secretary of state. If the signatures are not the same, the administrator shall reject the application or request. If the required information is not provided, the administrator shall send the voter by mail or facsimile an application for a ballot.

Acts 2018, ch. 1004, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2018, ch. 1004, § 4 provided that the secretary of state is authorized to promulgate rules in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, to implement the provisions of this act.

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 1004, § 5. March 1, 2019; provided, that for the purpose of promulgating rules, the act took effect May 21, 2018.

2-6-207. Assistance by person convicted of voter fraud prohibited.

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a person convicted of voter fraud in any state shall not assist a person in voting by absentee ballot.

Acts 2019, ch. 271, § 3.

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 271, § 5. April 30, 2019.

Part 3
General Provisions

2-6-301. Duplicate registration form filed in binder — Computerized reports — List posted.

  1. In all counties, the attesting official shall update the voter's computerized voter history by making the appropriate data entry. Upon issuance of an absentee ballot, the voter shall not thereafter vote in the election except by absentee ballot, or pursuant to § 2-7-112(a)(3)(A); provided, however, that if the ballot is issued pursuant to § 2-6-502 this subsection (a) does not apply.
  2. All absentee voting applications shall be filed alphabetically by election day in a binder and kept in the county election commission office as a public record through election day. As an alternative, a county election commission may maintain, on a daily basis, absentee voting applications as part of a computer-generated report. Such report is a public record.
  3. The county election commission shall furnish each polling place with a certified copy of a complete alphabetical list of its absentee voters for each election, and the copy shall be displayed at the polling place throughout the voting hours on election day.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-615; Acts 1981, ch. 241, § 1; 1981, ch. 335, § 1; 1988, ch. 993, § 6; T.C.A., § 2-6-115; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1995, ch. 69, § 1; 2010, ch. 636, § 1; 2018, ch. 726, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment, in the second sentence of (a), substituted “shall” for “may” and inserted “, or pursuant to § 2-7-112(a)(3)(A)” preceding the proviso.

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 726, § 3. April 18, 2018.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Failure to Publish List.

Failure to publish a complete and accurate list of absentee voters pursuant to this section did not void the absentee votes when the normal date of publication for the newspaper which published the list was weekly, fell on election day, and earlier publication was impossible. Payne v. Ramsey, 591 S.W.2d 434, 1979 Tenn. LEXIS 529 (Tenn. 1979).

2-6-302. Central absentee ballot counting board.

    1. The county election commission shall appoint registered voters of the county to constitute a central absentee ballot counting board to count the ballots cast under this chapter.
    2. The board shall consist of one (1) officer of elections and three (3) judges appointed subject to § 2-4-104. To count the ballots properly and with reasonable speed the commission may, if necessary, appoint additional judges subject to § 2-4-105.
    3. The board shall be assisted by the administrator of elections or other personnel of the county election commission.
    4. The officer and judges shall be compensated at the same rate as other election officials.
    5. The counting board shall be located at a location designated by the county election commission. Notice of the location shall be published in conjunction with the notice of election required by § 2-12-111(c) and shall not be changed except in the event of an emergency.
  1. If the county election commission determines that there are fewer than one hundred (100) absentee ballots to be counted, the county election commission may act as the central absentee ballot counting board without additional compensation.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-616; Acts 1992, ch. 895, § 2; T.C.A., § 2-6-116; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 2003, ch. 352, § 7; 2008, ch. 928, § 12.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-303. Delivery of poll books and other records to board — Process of ballots.

    1. No later than four (4) hours prior to the closing of polls for all regularly scheduled November elections and no later than two (2) hours prior to the closing of polls for all other elections, or at such earlier time after the polls open as the county election commission may direct, on election day, the county election commission shall deliver the locked and sealed absentee ballot boxes and their keys to the counting board in the commission office.
    2. The county election commission shall also deliver to the counting board the poll books prepared by precinct by the administrator of elections as the absentee ballots were received, the binder of rejected absentee ballots by precinct, the absentee voting binder of duplicate permanent registration records by precinct, and any other supplies necessary or useful in the performance of the counting board's duties. However, in those counties in which computerized duplicate registration records are used, the administrator shall be relieved of the duty to deliver the absentee voting binder of duplicate permanent registration records by precincts. In counties in which computerized duplicate permanent registration records are used, the county election commission shall deliver to the counting board a printed list, arranged by precinct, of those voters who voted or requested an absentee ballot.
  1. Any absentee ballot received by mail by the county election commission before the closing of the polls shall be processed as were absentee ballots received before election day. For ballots received after the ballot boxes are turned over to the counting board, the administrator shall not record the voters' names on the poll books or note that they voted on their duplicate permanent registration records but shall deliver the ballots to the counting board immediately after determining whether the ballots are entitled to be cast.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-617; Acts 1981, ch. 385, § 5; 1988, ch. 993, § 7; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 13, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-117; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 2016, ch. 827, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Amendments. The 2016 amendment, at the beginning of (a)(1), substituted “No later than four (4) hours prior to the closing of polls for all regularly scheduled November elections and no later than two (2) hours prior to the closing of polls for all other elections,” for “At four o’clock p.m. (4:00 p.m.) prevailing time,”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 827, § 7. April 21, 2016.

Cross-References. Failure to use standard time, § 4-1-401.

Inspection of ballot boxes before election, § 2-7-109.

Sealed absentee ballots, § 2-6-311.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

If complaint had been properly drawn, the purging by the trial court of a specific number of paper ballots in a particular precinct might well have been appropriate. But in the complaint, the contestant failed to demonstrate that a purge of those ballots would have changed the result of the election or rendered its outcome uncertain. Therefore, the court had no choice but to conclude that the chancellor correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show, district-wide, that the election was so permeated by fraud or illegality as to render the results incurably uncertain or to thwart the will of the electorate. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2-6-304. Procedure of counting board.

    1. The absentee ballot counting board shall unlock and open each ballot box in the presence of a majority of the judges and break the seals upon verification that the numbers are the same. All of the sealed absentee ballot envelopes with attached affidavits and early voting ballots shall be removed from the respective ballot boxes. If there is no challenge to a ballot, the counting board shall tear the affidavit from the absentee ballot envelope leaving the envelope sealed. All affidavits so removed shall be gathered together and placed in envelopes provided for that purpose for each election being held.
    2. A majority of the counting board officials shall certify the envelopes for each precinct in substantially the following form:

      Affidavits removed from sealed absentee ballots of  absent voters who voted in the  precinct in the  election on the  day of  , 20  , in  County, State of Tennessee. We hereby certify that we have sealed this envelope before opening any of the sealed absentee ballot envelopes containing ballots.

      Name and Title Name and Title

      Name and Title Name and Title

  1. If any absentee ballot is rejected for any reason by the administrator of elections or by the counting board, such absentee ballot envelope shall not be opened nor its affidavit removed, but it shall be marked “Rejected” across its face with the reasons for rejection written on it and signed by each official who rejected it. It shall then be placed in the container of rejected absentee ballots. A list shall be made of such rejected ballots, and the administrator shall notify the voters by mail of the rejection.
  2. The counting board official shall then open the sealed absentee ballot envelopes, remove the absentee ballots and count and record the absentee ballot votes and the early voting ballot votes. In no event may the votes for any candidate be totaled until after all polls in the county are closed.
  3. When a counting board receives ballots which the county election commission received on election day before the close of the polls, it shall write on the voter's duplicate permanent registration record that the voter has voted absentee in the election and record the voter's name on the absentee poll book. At the close of the polls the counting board shall make a certificate for such ballots substantially in the form of the certificate required by subsection (a).
  4. If a county election commission authorizes the use of a mechanical or electronic voting machine for early voting, the commission shall remove the vote totals according to rules promulgated by the coordinator of elections. Votes must be removed from the machines in such a manner so that no vote totals can be associated with any candidate at the time of removal. In addition, the election commission shall be required to provide notice to all candidates and political parties of the place and time when the vote totals will be removed from those voting machines. In no event may the votes for any candidate be totaled until after all polls in the county are closed.
  5. Not later than forty-five (45) days after an election, the chair of the county election commission shall certify the results of absentee balloting to the state election coordinator. Failure to so certify shall be grounds for removal from office under title 8, chapter 47.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 718, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-618; Acts 1988, ch. 993, § 8; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 14, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-118; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2; 1995, ch. 88, §§ 7, 8, 10; 2009, ch. 218, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Sealed absentee ballots, § 2-6-311.

Attorney General Opinions. Absentee and early voting ballots may not be totaled—and thus may not be released—until all polling places in the county are closed.  Under T.C.A. § 2-7-127, polling places are closed only when all persons waiting in line to vote at the time set for closing have voted. OAG 19-12, 2019 Tenn. AG LEXIS 15 (8/26/2019).

2-6-305. Election laws applicable.

The provisions of chapter 7 of this title with respect to challenge and poll watchers apply to the central absentee ballot counting board. A poll watcher may not leave and reenter the absentee ballot counting after the challenge process has been completed and the counting board begins to count the votes without the permission of the administrator of elections or the administrator's designee.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-619, 2-6-119; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-306. Absentee voter dying prior to election day — Disposition of ballot.

If an absentee voter has voted before an election and such absentee voter dies before election day, the county election commission shall count such voter's ballot or vote. The casting of a proper ballot by a person who dies before the day of the election does not invalidate the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-620; Acts 1993, ch. 518, §§ 16, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-120; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

2-6-307. Disposition of registration records after election.

Except in those counties which use computerized duplicate registration records, the administrator of elections shall take the duplicate permanent registration records from the early voting duplicate permanent registration binders and put them in the regular duplicate permanent registration books within two (2) weeks after the election, unless an election contest has been initiated. Temporary registration records shall be filed together with the records of the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-621; Acts 1988, ch. 993, § 9; T.C.A., § 2-6-121; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-308. Early and absentee voting applications — Uniform forms.

The coordinator of elections shall adopt uniform forms for each county election commission for an application for early voting and absentee voting.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 213, § 1; 1978, ch. 814, § 4; 1978, ch. 861, § 3; T.C.A., §§ 2-623, 2-6-123; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Cross-References. Absentee voting by mail by armed forces personnel, § 2-6-502.

Filling out application, § 2-6-203.

Special write-in absentee ballots, § 2-6-503.

2-6-309. Absentee ballot envelope — Requirements — Voter's affidavit form.

  1. The absentee ballot envelope shall have a sealing flap and shall be a plain envelope without markings except the words “Absentee Ballot Envelope” or “  Primary Absentee Ballot Envelope” printed on the face and such instructions for the use of the envelope if it has become prematurely sealed as the coordinator of elections prescribes. The coordinator of elections shall determine distinguishable colors to be used in the printing of the ballot envelopes for early voting and absentee voting. Both envelopes shall include a place for the voter's precinct and district number and a statement for the administrator to sign stating that the voter's signature has been verified and appears to be valid. The absentee voting ballot envelope need not contain a certificate for an attesting official.
  2. It shall have also a detachable flap which shall contain the words “Do Not Detach” and an affidavit in substantially the following form:

    VOTER'S AFFIDAVIT

    State of

    County of

    I,  , do solemnly swear that I am a resident of Precinct  , Ward or District  of  County, State of Tennessee, and am a registered voter in the  election to be held on the  day of  , 20  .

    I further swear that this envelope contains the absentee ballot marked by me in secret indicating my choice at that election, and that I am not registered in any other state or county for this election and I am otherwise entitled to vote absentee in this election.

    Signature of Affiant

    Witnesses if assisted

    (Person who assisted)

    Name   Address

    Name   Address

    CERTIFICATE OF ATTESTING OFFICIAL

    Sworn to and subscribed before me this  day of  , 20 . I hereby certify that the affiant whose name appears above exhibited the enclosed absentee ballot to me unmarked, marked the ballot in secret (with assistance) and enclosed and sealed it in this envelope without anyone (other than the assistant) seeing how the affiant voted, and the affiant was not solicited or advised by me to vote for or against any candidate or issue in the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 316, § 6; T.C.A., §§ 2-625, 2-6-125; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-310. Ballot requirements.

  1. Ballots to be used under this chapter shall be prepared by the county election commission. The ballots shall conform to all the requirements of chapter 5, part 2 of this title with respect to paper ballots except as provided otherwise in this chapter.
  2. Ballots to be used under this chapter shall be printed immediately after the deadline established for withdrawal of candidates but not less than thirty (30) days before the day of the election. In individual cases, the county election commission shall be excused from compliance with the requirement of this subsection (b) that ballots be printed at least thirty (30) days before the day of the election whenever application of constitutional or statutory provisions of law concerning the filling of vacancies in public office renders such compliance impossible or impractical. No person shall be denied an opportunity to cast an absentee ballot as a result of noncompliance by such commission with such thirty (30) day requirement.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-626; Acts 1981, ch. 220, § 1; 1986, ch. 661, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 2-6-126; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

2-6-311. Absentee ballot boxes — Requirements.

  1. Absentee ballot boxes shall meet the requirements for standard ballot boxes under § 2-5-214, have at least two (2) hasps for locks, and be equipped with baffles so that ballots cannot be removed without unlocking the box.
  2. The ballot boxes shall be locked at the beginning of absentee voting with one (1) lock from a county election commissioner of one (1) party and another lock provided by a commissioner of another party. The commissioners shall retain the keys personally. The boxes may not be unlocked except when the votes are to be counted.
  3. In addition to the locks required in subsection (b), the county election commission shall place two (2) numbered seals on each ballot box at the beginning of absentee voting with one (1) seal placed by a county election commissioner of each party. Such seal numbers shall be recorded by the administrator of elections and certified in duplicate by one (1) commissioner of each party, and the original shall be forwarded by mail immediately to the office of the coordinator of elections and the duplicate shall be filed in the election commission office. The seals may not be broken except when the votes are to be counted. If a seal or seals are broken, the administrator shall immediately attach new numbered seals and certify in writing to the coordinator of elections the numbers and a description of the circumstances necessitating this action.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-627; Acts 1984, ch. 636, § 2; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 12, 21; T.C.A., § 2-6-127; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-6-312. Official forms at expense of state.

The coordinator of elections shall prepare and furnish all applications, envelopes, instructions and other official forms for use under this chapter at the expense of the state. With the approval of the coordinator of elections, a county election commission may use its own computer-generated forms.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-628, 2-6-128; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. This section may be affected by § 9-1-116, concerning entitlement to funds, absent appropriation.

Part 4
Emergency Absentee Voting

2-6-401. Emergency absentee ballots.

    1. The county election commission may designate emergency registrars who shall have the responsibility of supplying ballots to and receiving ballots from persons who have been hospitalized in their county of residence within twenty (20) days of an election when such persons will be unable to vote in person on election day.
    2. The county election commission may appoint the hospital administrator to act as an emergency registrar for any person who is a patient in that hospital due to an emergency; provided, that no such appointment shall be made more than fifteen (15) days before the election.
    3. Any ballots cast in accordance with this section shall be witnessed by a voter registered in the county.
  1. A registered voter eligible to request the services of an emergency registrar shall make such a request not more than twenty (20) days before the election and no later than the opening of the polls on election day. Upon receiving a bona fide request for the services of an emergency registrar, the county election commission shall direct an emergency registrar to provide the following materials to such person:
    1. An application;
    2. A paper ballot or ballots;
    3. A duplicate of the person's permanent voter registration; and
    4. An envelope in which to seal the ballot.
  2. In addition to those persons or that category of persons otherwise authorized to vote absentee under this chapter, a voter shall upon a showing of reasonable proof to the administrator of elections or the administrator's deputy be eligible to vote absentee by personal appearance at the commission office, not more than five (5) days nor later than the day prior to the election if:
    1. Due to the death of a relative of a voter which would result in the voter's absence from the state or county on election day; or
    2. If the voter receives a subpoena or service of process requiring the voter's presence on election day.
  3. The procedure for voting shall substantially follow the provisions for voting absentee by personal appearance set out in §§ 2-6-102 and 2-6-109.

Acts 1977, ch. 306, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-629; Acts 1981, ch. 478, §§ 14, 15; 1983, ch. 230, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-6-129; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 5; 2013, ch. 231, § 8.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N. L. Resener, J. A. Whitson, K. J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality of Photo Identification Requirement.

In a declaratory judgment action challenging the constitutionality of the Tennessee Voter Identification Act (the Act), T.C.A. § 2-7-112(a)(1)(B), the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the photo identification (ID) requirement is a logical method of protecting the integrity of elections by combating voter fraud and that requiring a person to provide government-issued photo ID is a practical, narrowly tailored means for the State to guard against the risk of voter impersonation. City of Memphis v. Hargett, 414 S.W.3d 88, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 779 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013), substituted opinion, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 1101 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).

Part 5
Voting by Military and Overseas Citizens

2-6-501. Voting or registering by mail outside United States or by armed forces — Envelopes.

For persons voting absentee by mail or registering by mail from outside the territorial limits of the United States and for all armed forces personnel, there shall be printed across the face of each envelope in which a ballot or any registration material is to be sent the words “Official Election Balloting Material-Via Air Mail”, or similar language. Furthermore, there shall be printed the words “Free of United States Postage, Including Air Mail.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., §§ 2-606, 2-6-106; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 6; 2008, ch. 928, § 13; 2011, ch. 176, § 1.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

If complaint had been properly drawn, the purging by the trial court of a specific number of paper ballots in a particular precinct might well have been appropriate. But in the complaint, the contestant failed to demonstrate that a purge of those ballots would have changed the result of the election or rendered its outcome uncertain. Therefore, the court had no choice but to conclude that the chancellor correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show, district-wide, that the election was so permeated by fraud or illegality as to render the results incurably uncertain or to thwart the will of the electorate. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2-6-502. Armed forces personnel — Persons temporarily outside United States — Procedure.

  1. Any application to vote absentee by mail from armed forces personnel anywhere outside the county where the voter is registered or from qualified voters temporarily staying outside the territorial limits of the United States and the District of Columbia shall be processed under this section if it does not meet the requirements of § 2-6-202 as an absentee voting application or if the applicant is not a registered voter. A certificate of nonregistration is not required of a person voting under this section.
  2. An application for an absentee ballot or temporary registration or both from any person authorized to vote absentee by mail under subsection (a) may be in any form but shall contain the applicant's name, social security number, date of birth, and residence in the county in which the applicant proposes to vote and shall contain the address to which the absentee ballot is to be mailed. If the election is a primary election, the applicant shall state such applicant's political party preference. The county election commission shall accept the federal postcard application or the application for the federal write-in absentee ballot, as provided for in the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Public Law 99-410, 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff et seq., for temporary registration and for an absentee ballot for all elections for which the person is eligible to vote. An application or ballot affidavit shall be signed by the voter, under the penalty of perjury, thereby verifying all the information on the application or ballot affidavit is true and correct and that the voter is eligible to vote in the election. The social security number, date of birth, mailing address and electronic mailing address contained on such application shall be confidential and not subject to the open records law compiled in title 10, chapter 7.
  3. An application must be received in the county election commission office of the county in which the applicant is a resident not later than seven (7) days before the election and not earlier than January 1 of the year in which the election is to be held; provided, that in the event an election is to be held less than ninety (90) days after January 1 of any calendar year, applications under this section may be received not earlier than ninety (90) days before the election in which the applicant desires to vote.
  4. An application for an absentee ballot under this section shall be treated as an application for temporary registration if the applicant is not already a registered voter where such applicant applies to vote. The applicant shall be granted temporary registration if such applicant is a qualified voter under § 2-2-102. Temporary registration under this section is not subject to the deadline set in § 2-2-109. A person applying to vote absentee under this section in a primary election may request in such person's application for an absentee ballot that an absentee ballot for the succeeding general election be sent to the person when such ballots become available for distribution; provided, that if a voter voting hereunder moves from the location where the voter is to be sent a primary ballot between the primary and general elections, such voter shall notify the county election commission of such move and advise the commission where the general election ballot is to be sent.
  5. Upon determining whether the applicant is entitled to register, vote, or both in the election, the administrator of elections shall proceed under the general provisions of this chapter for voting absentee by mail or under procedures determined by the coordinator of elections for electronically transmitting voting materials. In all counties, the attesting official shall update the voter's computerized voter history by making the appropriate data entry.
  6. Ballots received under this section shall be processed as other absentee ballots from persons voting absentee by mail. A federal write-in absentee ballot from any applicant under this section shall be counted for all elections for which the applicant is eligible to vote.
  7. A United States citizen who was born abroad and who is eligible to vote and who has never lived in the United States may register temporarily and vote in the county where a parent would be eligible to temporarily register and vote pursuant to this section.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-612; Acts 1983, ch. 107, §§ 1, 2; 1988, ch. 933, § 10; T.C.A., § 2-6-112; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 6; 1997, ch. 558, § 14; 2007, ch. 125, § 4; 2010, ch. 636, §§ 2-4; 2011, ch. 176, §§ 2, 3.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Law Reviews.

Selected Tennessee Legislation of 1983 (N.L. Resener, J.A. Whitson, K.J. Miller), 50 Tenn. L. Rev. 785 (1983).

Collateral References.

Voting by persons in military service. 34 A.L.R.2d 1193.

2-6-503. Special write-in absentee ballots.

  1. Not later than forty-five (45) days before a federal election, as defined in § 2-1-104, the administrator of elections shall mail a ballot or electronically transfer a ballot to each member of the armed forces and each citizen temporarily outside the United States who is entitled to vote and who has submitted a valid application for a ballot. The ballot shall be mailed or electronically transferred in accordance with the preferred method of transmission designated by the applicant. If no preferred method is specified, the ballot shall be mailed. Nothing herein shall be construed to permit the transfer of a ballot by use of a fax machine or to permit a ballot which has been voted by an applicant to be electronically received by the election commission. The coordinator of elections is authorized to develop rules and procedures to ensure full compliance with federal law. The mailed ballot or the electronically transferred ballot shall be in one of the following forms:
    1. An official absentee ballot that complies with the requirements of chapter 5, part 2 of this title and this chapter; or
    2. A write-in ballot that is substantially identical to an absentee ballot described in subdivision (a)(1), except that no candidates' names shall be listed anywhere on the ballot. In addition to this write-in ballot, the administrator of elections shall include a complete list of all candidates who have qualified for the offices listed on the write-in ballot.
    1. Compliance with the time requirements of subsection (a) is required for any federal election as defined by § 2-1-104. For any other election, if the coordinator of elections determines the appropriate qualifying or filing deadline does not reasonably allow compliance, the administrator of elections shall mail or electronically transfer a ballot not later than thirty (30) days before the election.
    2. If the coordinator of elections determines an undue hardship exists for any federal election which prevents a county from complying with the time requirements of subsection (a), the coordinator of elections shall request a waiver as permitted under federal law.
  2. If a vacancy occurs in the office of representatives in congress, and the coordinator of elections determines an undue hardship exists and a timely waiver may not be granted, preventing an election commission from complying with the time requirements of subsection (a), the following shall apply:
    1. Notwithstanding the time established in § 2-16-101 for calling for a special election, within ten (10) days of the vacancy occurring, the governor shall, by writs of election, order a special election to fill the vacancy. The governor shall first determine whether the special election may be held in conjunction with an upcoming regular primary or general election as provided in § 2-14-102;
    2. If the special election cannot be held in such manner, the governor shall, by writ of election, set a date not less than seventy-five (75) nor more than eighty (80) days from the date of the writ for primary election for nominations by statewide political parties to fill the vacancy and shall, by the same writ of election, set a date of not less than one hundred thirty (130) nor more than one hundred thirty-five (135) days from the date of the writ for a general election to fill the vacancy. Candidates for the primary elections and independent candidates for the general election shall qualify as required in regular elections but shall file qualifying petitions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the eighth Tuesday before the day of the primary elections. A candidate's request to withdraw shall be filed no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the third day after the qualifying deadline;
    3. Except where this section makes different provisions, chapter 14 of this title shall govern elections required by this section. The state primary boards shall perform their duties under chapter 8 of this title with respect to primaries held under this section as quickly as practicable and shall certify the nominees of their parties to the county election commissions no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the fiftieth day before the day of the general election.

Acts 1987, ch. 142, § 1; 1990, ch. 628, § 6; T.C.A., § 2-6-130; Acts 1994, ch. 859, § 6; 2010, ch. 636, §§ 5-7.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Cross-References. Application for early and absentee voting, § 2-6-308.

Collateral References.

Challenges to Write-in Ballots and Certification of Write-in Candidates. 75 A.L.R.6th 311.

Part 6
Voting at Licensed Nursing Homes

2-6-601. Methods of voting at licensed nursing homes.

  1. In the case of individuals who are full-time residents of any licensed nursing home, home for the aged or similar licensed institution providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, in the county of the voter's residence, the county election commission of each county shall send one (1) absentee voting deputy representing the majority party and one (1) absentee voting deputy representing the minority party to the institution for the purpose of processing, assisting the voter who may be entitled to assistance under § 2-6-105 or § 2-6-106, and attesting absentee ballot applications and ballots. Both absentee voting deputies shall attest the voter's ballot. The procedure for voting shall substantially follow the provisions for early voting established by part 1 of this chapter and shall be provided to each facility as described in this subsection (a). The procedure for voting in this section shall be the only method by which individuals may vote in an election if such individuals are full-time residents of any licensed nursing home, home for the aged or similar licensed institution providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution. Nothing in this section shall in any manner be construed to prohibit an individual from voting during the early voting period at a location established for early voting, or otherwise voting in person on election day at either the commission office, in accordance with the provisions of § 2-3-109(e), or the individual's polling place, if such an individual is a full-time resident in such home or institution and the individual is medically able to go to the commission office, the person's polling place, or a location established for early voting for the purpose of voting. The county election commission may begin the voting at the licensed nursing homes twenty-nine (29) days before an election.
  2. Each licensed nursing home, assisted care living facility, home for the aged, or similar licensed institution providing relatively permanent domiciliary care shall provide, upon request from the administrator of elections, a list of all the individuals in the licensed institution for the limited purpose of voting the registered voter. This list shall include the names and home addresses of each individual if such address is not the same as the licensed facility. The list shall be requested by the administrator of elections no later than forty (40) days prior to election day for each election and shall be provided promptly by the facility.

Acts 1997, ch. 558, § 12; 1999, ch. 87, § 1; 1999, ch. 197, § 7; 2004, ch. 480, §§ 7, 8.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality of Photo Identification Requirement.

In a declaratory judgment action challenging the constitutionality of the Tennessee Voter Identification Act (the Act), T.C.A. § 2-7-112(a)(1)(B), the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the photo identification (ID) requirement is a logical method of protecting the integrity of elections by combating voter fraud and that requiring a person to provide government-issued photo ID is a practical, narrowly tailored means for the State to guard against the risk of voter impersonation. City of Memphis v. Hargett, 414 S.W.3d 88, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 779 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013), substituted opinion, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 1101 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).

Chapter 7
Procedure at the Polling Place

2-7-101. Officer of elections.

  1. The officer of elections is in charge of and responsible for the conduct of all the elections being held at the polling place where such officer is the officer of elections. The officer is subject to the direction of the county election commission in the performance of such duties.
  2. The officer of elections shall:
    1. Maintain order at the polling place;
    2. Assure that voting machines and voting compartments are arranged in such a way that the secrecy of the ballot is preserved and that no voter, on entering the polling place, comes near the voting machines or ballot boxes before the voter's eligibility to vote has been determined;
    3. Keep each voting compartment provided with proper supplies for marking the ballots;
    4. Have persons who are waiting to vote stand in line so that no person who is waiting is standing nearer than ten feet (10') to any voting machine or ballot box;
    5. Report the breakdown of any voting machine to the voting machine technician; and
    6. Ensure that each other election official performs such official's duties.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-701.

2-7-102. Judges.

During the time for voting, the judges shall distribute paper ballots, decide challenges to voters, serve in place of other election officials as directed by the officer of elections, and assist the officer of elections in such ways as the officer may direct.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-702.

2-7-103. Persons allowed in polling place.

  1. No person may be admitted to a polling place while the procedures required by this chapter are being carried out except election officials, voters, persons properly assisting voters, the press, poll watchers appointed under § 2-7-104 and others bearing written authorization from the county election commission.
  2. Candidates may be present after the polls close.
  3. No police or other law enforcement officer may come nearer to the entrance to a polling place than ten feet (10') or enter the polling place except at the request of the officer of elections or the county election commission or to make an arrest or to vote.
  4. No person may go into a voting machine or a voting booth while it is occupied by a voter except as expressly authorized by this title.
  5. In addition to persons authorized to be admitted to the polling place in subsection (a), a child under seventeen (17) years of age may accompany the child's parent or legal guardian into the polling place. Such child may also enter the voting machine or voting booth with such parent or guardian to observe the voting process.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-703; Acts 1995, ch. 393, § 1.

2-7-104. Poll watchers.

  1. Each political party and any organization of citizens interested in a question on the ballot or interested in preserving the purity of elections and in guarding against abuse of the elective franchise may appoint poll watchers. The county election commission may require organizations to produce evidence that they are entitled to appoint watchers. Each candidate in primary elections and each independent candidate in general elections may appoint one (1) or more poll watchers for each polling place; provided, however, at any given time, each such candidate shall have not more than one (1) such poll watcher on duty at each polling place. All appointments of watchers shall be in writing and signed by the persons or organizations authorized to make the appointment. All poll watchers' names shall be submitted to the county election commission no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon of the second working day before the election. All appointed poll watchers must have reached seventeen (17) years of age by election day and be residents of this state. A spouse of a candidate on the ballot shall not be eligible for appointment as a poll watcher.
  2. Each political party which has candidates in the election and each citizens' organization may have two (2) watchers at each polling place. One (1) of the watchers representing a party may be appointed by the chair of the county executive committee of the party and the other by a majority of the candidates of that party running exclusively within the county in which the watchers are appointed. If the candidates of a party fail to appoint the watchers by twelve o'clock (12:00) noon on the third day before the election, the chair of the county executive committee of the party may appoint both watchers representing the chair's party. In addition, each candidate in a general election may appoint one (1) or more poll watchers for each polling place; provided, however, at any given time, each such candidate shall have not more than one (1) such poll watcher on duty at each polling place.
  3. Upon arrival at the polling place, a watcher shall display such watcher's appointment to the officer of elections and sign the register of watchers. Poll watchers may be present during all proceedings at the polling place governed by this chapter. They may watch and inspect the performance in and around the polling place of all duties under this title. A watcher may, through the judges, challenge any person who offers to vote in the election. A watcher may also inspect all ballots while being called and counted and all tally sheets and poll lists during preparation and certification. A poll watcher who wishes to protest any aspect of the conduct of the election shall present such protest to the officer of elections or to the county election commission or to an inspector. The officer of elections or county election commission shall rule promptly upon the presentation of any protest and take any necessary corrective action.
  4. No watcher may interfere with any voter in the preparation or casting of such voter's ballot or prevent the election officials' performance of their duties. No watcher may observe the giving of assistance in voting to a voter who is entitled to assistance. Watchers shall wear poll watcher badges with their names and their organization's name but no campaign material advocating voting for candidates or positions on questions.
  5. Poll watchers observing the duties of the absentee counting board shall not leave the room, or place of counting, after the actual counting of the ballots has begun. Poll watchers observing the duties of the absentee counting board are prohibited from possessing any electronic device, including a cellular telephone or pager, capable of transmitting election results to a location outside the room where the ballots are being tabulated.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-704; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 16; 1988, ch. 933, § 11; 1997, ch. 558, §§ 19, 31, 32; 2000, ch. 756, § 13; 2001, ch. 413, § 4; 2007, ch. 125, § 5; 2016, ch. 827, § 3; 2019, ch. 250, § 3.

Amendments. The 2016 amendment added the last sentence in (a).

The 2019 amendment, effective October 1, 2019, added “and be residents of this state” at the end of the sixth sentence of (a).

Effective Dates. Acts 2016, ch. 827, § 7. April 21, 2016.

Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 9. October 1, 2019.

2-7-105. Election officials — Vacancies — Administration of oath — Compensation.

  1. The election officials of each polling place shall meet at the polling place at least one-half (½) hour before the time for opening the polls for the election.
    1. If any election official fails to appear at the polling place, the officer of elections or, in such officer's absence, a majority of the election officials attending shall select other persons to fill the vacancies. The persons selected shall be registered voters of the county for which they are to serve. Any person selected to fill a vacancy shall be, to the extent practicable, of the same political party as the person in whose place such person was selected.
    2. The officer of elections or, in such officer's absence, the oldest election official in age who has taken the oath shall administer the oath of § 2-1-111 to the persons filling vacancies and to any other official who has not taken the oath.
    3. The officer of elections shall notify the county election commission of all vacancies.
    4. Persons appointed to vacancies shall be compensated at the same rate as others performing the job to which they are appointed.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-705; Acts 1997, ch. 558, § 29.

2-7-106. Failure of all officials to appear — Appointment of replacements to election commission — Voting pending appointment.

If the county election commission receives notice that no election officials are at the polling place, the commission shall promptly appoint new officials who shall conduct the election. Until the polling place is open for voting, any voter who is eligible to vote there may vote at the county election commission office; ballots cast under this section shall be counted by the county election commission.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-706.

2-7-107. Delivery of election supplies.

The officer of elections shall deliver to the polling place on the day of the election the duplicate permanent registration records, paper ballots, sample ballots, voting machine keys, ballot boxes and keys, and all other supplies needed for the conduct of the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-707.

2-7-108. Lost, stolen or destroyed ballots — Replacement — Wrong voting machines delivered — Written report of circumstances.

  1. If the ballots for a polling place are lost, stolen, destroyed, not delivered to the polling place or the supply of paper ballots is insufficient for any reason, the officer of elections shall notify the county election commission immediately after learning of this fact. The commission shall provide replacements for the missing or destroyed ballots by delivering the ballots reserved under § 2-5-209 and by having such additional ballots prepared as may be necessary.
  2. If paper ballots or voting machines or both are delivered to the wrong polling place, the officer of elections shall notify the county election commission upon discovery of the error. The commission shall immediately have the proper ballots or voting machines delivered. Pending the arrival of the correct voting machines, the officer of elections shall proceed under § 2-7-119 as if the machines were out of order.
  3. At the close of the polls, the officer of elections shall make a written report of the circumstances causing the officer's action under this section to the county election commission which may make additions to the report and shall then transmit it to the grand jury of the county.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-708.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Election Challenge.

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

2-7-109. Ballot boxes — Locked during voting.

The officer of elections shall show the ballot box to the judges who shall verify that it is empty, and the officer shall then lock the ballot box before the polling place is open for voting. The ballot box shall remain locked until the votes are to be counted after voting has ended.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-709.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

If a complaint had been properly drawn, the purging by the trial court of a specific number of paper ballots in a particular precinct might well have been appropriate. But in the complaint, the contestant failed to demonstrate that a purge of those ballots would have changed the result of the election or rendered its outcome uncertain. Therefore, the court had no choice but to conclude that the chancellor correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show, district-wide, that the election was so permeated by fraud or illegality as to render the results incurably uncertain or to thwart the will of the electorate. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2-7-110. Examination and final preparation of machines.

  1. The officer shall give the sealed voting machine keys to the judges to prepare the machines for voting. The envelope containing the keys may not be opened until the judges have examined it to see that it has not been opened and that the number registered on the protective counter and the number on the seal with which the machine is sealed correspond with the numbers written on the envelope containing the keys.
  2. If the envelope has been torn open, or if the numbers do not correspond, or if any other discrepancy is found, the judges shall immediately inform the voting machine technician of the facts. The voting machine technician or the technician's assistant shall promptly examine the machine and certify whether it is properly arranged.
  3. If the number on the seal and the protective counter are found to agree with the numbers on the envelope, the judges shall then open the door concealing the counters and carefully examine every counter to see that it registers zero (000) and shall also allow the watchers to examine them. The judges shall then sign a certificate showing the delivery of the keys in a sealed envelope, the number on the seal, the number registered on the protective counter, that all the counters are set at zero (000), and that the ballot labels are properly placed in the machine.
  4. If any counter is found not to register at zero (000) and if it is impracticable for the voting machine technician to arrive in time to adjust the counters before the time set for opening the polls, the judges shall immediately make a written statement of the designating letter and number, if any, of such counter, together with the number registered thereon, and shall sign and post the statement on the wall of the polling place where it shall remain throughout the election day. In filling out the tally sheets, they shall subtract such number from the number then registered on such counter.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-710.

2-7-111. Posting of sample ballots and instructions — Arrangement of polling place — Restrictions.

  1. The officer of elections shall have the sample ballots, voting instructions, and other materials, which are to be posted, placed in conspicuous positions inside the polling place for the use of voters. The county election commission shall designate entrances to the building in which the election is to be held that are for the use of voters. The officer shall measure off one hundred feet (100') from the designated entrances and place boundary signs at that distance.
    1. Within the appropriate boundary as established in subsection (a), and the building in which the polling place is located, the display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, and solicitation of votes for or against any person, political party, or position on a question are prohibited. No campaign posters, signs or other campaign literature may be displayed on or in any building in which a polling place is located.
    2. Except in a county with a population of not less than eight hundred twenty-five thousand (825,000) nor more than eight hundred thirty thousand (830,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, a solicitation or collection for any cause is prohibited. This does not include the normal activities that may occur at such polling place such as a church, school, grocery, etc.
    3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person from wearing a button, cap, hat, pin, shirt, or other article of clothing outside the established boundary but on the property where the polling place is located.
  2. The officer of elections shall have each official wear a badge with that official's name and official title.
  3. With the exception of counties having a metropolitan form of government, any county having a population over six hundred thousand (600,000) according to the 1970 federal census or any subsequent federal census, and counties having a population of between two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) and two hundred sixty thousand (260,000) by the 1970 census, any county may, by private act, extend the one hundred foot (100') boundary provided in this section.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-711; Acts 1980, ch. 543, §§ 1, 2; 1987, ch. 362, §§ 1, 2, 4; 1993, ch. 465, §§ 1, 2; 1993, ch. 518, §§ 11, 21; 1994, ch. 582, § 1; 2003, ch. 307, § 6; 2019, ch. 90, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. This section was held unconstitutional in Freeman v. Burson, 802 S.W.2d 210 (Tenn. 1990). See heading “Constitutionality” under Notes to Decisions. However, the decision by the Tennessee supreme court was reversed on appeal by the United States supreme court on May 26, 1992. See Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191, 112 S. Ct. 1846, 119 L. Ed 2d 5 (1992).

For tables of U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment, in (a), added the second sentence, and substituted “designated entrances” for “entrances to the building in which the election is to be held” in the last sentence.

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 90, § 2. March 28, 2019.

Cross-References. Violation of this section a misdemeanor, § 2-19-119.

Attorney General Opinions. Extension of boundary at polling place prohibited, OAG 97-128 (9/22/97).

The 100 foot “campaign-free” zone on election day does not extend to private property adjacent to and within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place, OAG 02-118 (10/24/02).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

The exercise of free speech rights conflicts with another fundamental right, the right to cast a ballot in an election free from the taint of intimidation and fraud. Some restricted zone around polling places is necessary to protect that fundamental right. Given the conflict between these two rights, requiring solicitors to stand 100 feet from the entrances to polling places does not constitute an unconstitutional compromise. Freeman v. Burson, 802 S.W.2d 210, 1990 Tenn. LEXIS 337 (Tenn. 1990), rev'd, 504 U.S. 191, 112 S. Ct. 1846, 119 L. Ed. 2d 5, 1992 U.S. LEXIS 3125 (1992), rehearing denied, — S.W.2d —, 1992 Tenn. LEXIS 683 (Tenn. Dec. 7, 1992).

A state has a compelling interest in protecting voters from confusion and undue influence. Freeman v. Burson, 802 S.W.2d 210, 1990 Tenn. LEXIS 337 (Tenn. 1990), rev'd, 504 U.S. 191, 112 S. Ct. 1846, 119 L. Ed. 2d 5, 1992 U.S. LEXIS 3125 (1992), rehearing denied, — S.W.2d —, 1992 Tenn. LEXIS 683 (Tenn. Dec. 7, 1992).

The state supreme court held that the state showed a compelling interest in banning solicitation of voters or distribution of campaign materials within the polling place itself, but that T.C.A. § 2-7-111 was not narrowly tailored to advance the state's interest; however, the U.S. Supreme Court, reversing, held that this statute was constitutional. The state supreme court found that the statute prohibited all campaign activity from an arc of 100 feet from every entrance to the polling places, and in many instances, this arc would extend onto public streets and sidewalks, and that the state did not show a compelling interest in the 100 foot radius; and that, therefore, T.C.A. §§ 2-7-111 and 2-19-119, which provide criminal penalties for violations of this section, were constitutionally invalid. Freeman v. Burson, 802 S.W.2d 210, 1990 Tenn. LEXIS 337 (Tenn. 1990), rev'd, 504 U.S. 191, 112 S. Ct. 1846, 119 L. Ed. 2d 5, 1992 U.S. LEXIS 3125 (1992), rehearing denied, — S.W.2d —, 1992 Tenn. LEXIS 683 (Tenn. Dec. 7, 1992).

T.C.A. § 2-7-111 is content based because it regulates a specific subject matter, the solicitation of votes and the display or distribution of campaign materials, and a certain category of speakers, campaign workers. Freeman v. Burson, 802 S.W.2d 210, 1990 Tenn. LEXIS 337 (Tenn. 1990), rev'd, 504 U.S. 191, 112 S. Ct. 1846, 119 L. Ed. 2d 5, 1992 U.S. LEXIS 3125 (1992), rehearing denied, — S.W.2d —, 1992 Tenn. LEXIS 683 (Tenn. Dec. 7, 1992).

2-7-112. Procedure for voting.

    1. A voter shall complete and sign an application for ballot, indicate the primary in which the voter desires to vote, if any, and present it to a precinct registrar. In addition, the voter shall present to the precinct registrar one (1) form of identification that bears the name and photograph of the voter. The requirement to present one (1) form of identification that bears the name and photograph of the voter shall apply to persons voting pursuant to § 2-6-109; provided, however, that a person voting in accordance with § 2-6-401(a) and (b) or § 2-6-601 shall not be required to show an identification with a photograph of the voter. The application for ballot shall include a space for the address of the voter's current residence, and the voter shall write or print such address on the application when the voter signs the application for ballot.
      1. Using the computerized voter signature list or the electronic poll book, the registrar shall make a determination whether the voter's address is different from the address on the voter's permanent registration record or if the registration is in inactive status. If the voter has changed residence, or the voter's registration is inactive, the registrar shall follow the procedures for voting pursuant to §§ 2-7-140 and 2-7-141.
      2. To verify the voter's identification, the voter shall supply evidence of identification specified in subsection (c).
      3. If, upon verification of evidence of identification, it is found that the applicant is entitled to vote, the registrar shall initial the application, note the date of the election, the number on the voter's ballot application, and the primary or general election in which the voter applies to vote.
      4. If the applicant's signature is illegible, the registrar shall print the name on the application.
    2. The county election commission shall use either a computerized voter signature list or an electronic poll book that has been approved for use by the coordinator of elections. A computerized voter signature list shall include the voter's name, current address of residence, social security number or voter identification number, birth date and a space for the voter's signature, elections voted, application or ballot stub number, or both, and precinct registrar's initials. The electronic poll book shall contain the same information as on the computerized voter signature list in an electronic format and provide a place on its screen for the precinct registrar to record elections voted, application or ballot stub number, or both, the precinct registrar's initials and a place for the voter's signature.
      1. For those counties using the computerized voter signature list, the following procedures shall be followed:
        1. After completing the application for ballot, the voter shall sign the computerized voter signature list, and the registrar shall compare the voter's signature and information on the signature list with the information on the application for ballot; and
        2. If, upon comparison of the information, the registrar determines that the voter is entitled to vote, the registrar shall initial the computerized voter signature list and shall give the voter the ballot application, which is the voter's authorization to vote.
      2. For those counties using the electronic poll book, the following procedure shall be followed: After completing the application for ballot which shall include the voter's signature, if, upon comparison of the information, the registrar determines that the voter is entitled to vote, the registrar shall initial the application for ballot and shall give the voter the ballot application, which is the voter's authorization to vote.
      1. A person shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot under the procedures of this section if the voter claims to be properly registered in the county and eligible to vote at the precinct in the election, but whose eligibility cannot be determined by the computer signature list or by examination of the permanent registration records on file with the county election commission; an election official asserts the individual is not registered to vote; or the voter has requested a ballot pursuant to § 2-6-202. If a voter is unable to present evidence of identification, the voter shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot pursuant to subsection (e) unless the voter is eligible to vote pursuant to subsection (f).
        1. If the election official cannot determine that the voter's name should have been placed on the precinct's computer signature list, then the voter shall complete an original voter registration application. At the time of registration and pursuant to subsection (d), the voter shall present verification of the residential address under which the person desires to vote.
        2. After the voter has completed the voter registration application and supplied verification of the voter's residential address, the voter shall complete an application for ballot pursuant to this section.
        3. Upon completion of the application for ballot, the voter shall be given a provisional ballot and provisional ballot envelope. The provisional ballot envelope shall be of a different color from absentee ballot envelopes and shall bear a detachable slip that contains the provisional ballot affidavit. The provisional ballot affidavit shall contain the voter's printed name, social security number, date of birth, signature and any other identifying information deemed necessary by the coordinator of elections to satisfy the requirements of this section and to prevent fraudulent registration and voting.
        4. Both the voter registration application and the application for ballot shall be deposited in the provisional ballot box. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow election day voter registration.
        5. Pursuant to § 2-7-114(b) and (c), the voter shall vote the provisional ballot. Any county utilizing punchcard or optiscan technology shall process their ballots pursuant to rules promulgated by the state coordinator of elections. The provisions of § 2-7-116 shall govern any voter needing assistance.
        6. Along with the voter registration applications and the applications for ballot completed by provisional voters, all provisional ballots that have been cast shall remain sealed and locked in the absentee ballot box for return to the county election commission at the close of polls.
        1. All provisional ballots shall be counted at the county election commission office by a separate central absentee ballot counting board that has been appointed in like manner to the central absentee ballot counting board established under § 2-6-302 and known as the central provisional ballot counting board. Upon completion of the counting of the absentee ballots, the county election commission may designate the central absentee ballot counting board established under § 2-6-302 as the central provisional ballot counting board. If the county election commission determines that there are fewer than one hundred (100) provisional ballots to be counted, the county election commission may act as the central provisional ballot counting board without additional compensation. When provisional ballots have been cast utilizing punchcard or optiscan technology, the counting of the provisional ballots shall be pursuant to rules promulgated by the state coordinator of elections.
        2. After the delivery of the absentee ballot boxes containing provisional ballots to the county election commission, the central provisional ballot counting board shall unlock and open each absentee ballot box from the polling places in the presence of a majority of the judges.
        3. The central provisional ballot counting board shall examine the records of the county election commission and the records of the Tennessee departments of health, human services, mental health and substance abuse services, intellectual and developmental disabilities, safety and veterans services with respect to all provisional ballots. The central provisional ballot counting board shall then determine if the person voting that ballot was entitled to vote and met the statutory requirements for registration at the precinct where the person cast a vote in the election. The central provisional ballot counting board shall also determine that the person has not already cast a ballot in the election.
        4. If the central provisional ballot counting board determines that the person should have been registered to vote and met the statutory requirements for registration in the precinct where the voter cast the ballot and the voter has not cast a ballot in the election in a different precinct, then the central provisional ballot counting board shall remove the provision ballot affidavit from the provisional ballot envelope and place the sealed ballot with all other provisional ballots that have been determined to be countable.
        5. If the central provisional ballot counting board determines that the person should not have been registered to vote in the precinct where the voter cast the ballot or that the voter has previously cast a ballot in the election in a different precinct, the provisional ballot envelope shall not be opened nor its provisional ballot affidavit removed, but it shall be marked “Rejected” across its face with the reason for rejection written on it and signed by at least two (2) members of the central provisional ballot counting board. It shall then be placed in the container of rejected absentee ballots. A list shall be made of such rejected ballots, and the administrator shall notify the voters by mail of the rejection and the reason for such rejection.
        1. The counting of all provisional ballots must be completed within four (4) business days of the close of polls on election day. If the county election commission determines that the counting of provisional ballots cannot be completed by the designated time, the state coordinator of elections may grant the county an extension of time and designate a time that shall be no later than the third Monday after the election.
        2. If the county election commission determines that the counting of provisional ballots cannot be completed during the night of election day and upon the close of each counting session, the absentee ballot boxes containing the provisional ballots must be locked and sealed in the same manner established in § 2-6-311. The ballot boxes may not be unlocked except when the central provisional ballot counting board is performing its duties in compliance with this section.
  1. If a voter is disabled so as to be unable to write a signature or make a mark, the registrar shall write the voter's name where needed and shall indicate that this has been done by putting the registrar's initials immediately after the name.
  2. For purposes of verifying the person's identification on the application for ballot, “evidence of identification” shall be:
    1. A Tennessee driver license;
      1. Except as provided in subdivision (c)(2)(B), a valid identification card issued by the state of Tennessee, or the United States where authorized by law to issue personal identification; provided, that such identification card contains a photograph of the voter;
      2. An identification card issued to a student by an institution of higher education containing a photograph of a student shall not be evidence of identification for purposes of verifying the person's identification on the application for ballot;
    2. A valid identification card issued pursuant to § 55-50-336;
    3. A valid United States passport;
    4. A valid employee identification card issued by the state of Tennessee, or the United States where authorized by law to issue employee identification; provided, that such identification card contains a photograph of the voter;
    5. A valid United States military identification card; provided, that such identification card contains a photograph of the voter; or
    6. An employee identification card for retired state employees authorized pursuant to § 8-50-118.
  3. For purposes of registering a person to vote pursuant to subdivision (a)(3), “verification of residential address” shall include, but is not limited to, a Tennessee driver license, a residential lease agreement, a utility bill or other document bearing the applicant's residential address. Such verification may be on the same or different document from those listed in subsection (c).
  4. A person whose name appears on the computerized voter signature list or the electronic poll book and is unable to present valid evidence of identification specified in subsection (c) shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot under the procedures of this subsection (e) unless such person is eligible to vote pursuant to subsection (f).
    1. The voter shall complete an application for ballot pursuant to this section, and if the voter has changed residence, or the voter's registration is inactive, the voter shall complete a fail safe affidavit. The voter must vote in the precinct in which the person is a resident. The voter shall also be given a written statement that specifies the voter has until the second business day after the election to provide evidence of identification. The voter shall sign such statement and return it along with the application of ballot.
    2. Upon completion of the application for ballot and if applicable, the presentation of a fail safe affidavit in the voter's correct polling location, the voter shall be given a provisional ballot and provisional ballot envelope. The provisional ballot envelope shall be a different color from the absentee ballot envelopes and shall bear a detachable slip that contains the provisional ballot affidavit. The provisional ballot affidavit shall contain the voter's printed name, social security number, date of birth, signature and any other identifying information deemed necessary by the coordinator of elections to satisfy the requirements of this section and to prevent fraudulent voting. The application for ballot shall be deposited in the provisional ballot box.
    3. Pursuant to § 2-7-114(b) and (c), the voter shall vote the provisional ballot. Any county utilizing optical scan technology shall process their ballots pursuant to rules promulgated by the state coordinator of elections. Section 2-7-116 shall govern any voter needing assistance.
    4. Along with the applications for ballot completed by provisional voters, all provisional ballots that have been cast shall remain sealed and locked in the provisional ballot box for return to the county election commission at the close of polls.
    5. Provisional ballots cast pursuant to this subsection (e) shall only be counted if the voter provides evidence of identification specified in subsection (c) to the administrator of elections or the administrator's designee by the close of business on the second business day after the election. Evidence of identification must be presented at the voter's county election commission office or another location designated by the county election commission.
    6. Upon the voter presenting valid evidence of identification, set forth in subsection (c), to the administrator of elections or the administrator's designee, the voter shall sign an affidavit, prescribed by the coordinator of elections, containing the voter's name, signature and any other information deemed necessary by the coordinator of elections to satisfy the requirements of this section and to prevent fraudulent voting. The affidavit shall also contain a statement affirming under the penalty of perjury that the voter is the same individual that cast the provisional ballot. A photocopy of the evidence of identification shall be attached to the affidavit.
    7. The central provisional ballot counting board shall compare the information on the provisional affidavit envelope to the information set forth in subdivision (e)(6). If it is determined that the person provided proper evidence of identification, then the central provisional counting board shall remove the provisional ballot affidavit from the provisional ballot envelope and place the sealed ballot with all provisional ballots to be counted.
    8. If the voter does not provide valid evidence of identification in a timely manner, the provisional ballot envelope shall not be opened nor its provisional ballot affidavit removed, but shall be marked “Rejected” across its face with the reason for rejection written on it and signed by at least two (2) members of the central provisional ballot counting board. The board members signing the provisional ballot affidavit may not be of the same political party. It shall then be placed in the container of rejected ballots. The administrator shall notify the voters by mail of the rejection and the reason for such rejection.
    9. The central provisional ballot counting board shall have until the close of business on the fourth business day after the election to count any provisional ballot cast pursuant to this subsection (e). If the county election commission determines that the counting of provisional ballots cannot be completed by the designated time, the state coordinator of elections may grant the county an extension of time and designate a time that shall be no later than the second Monday after the election.
  5. A voter who is indigent and unable to obtain proof of identification without payment of a fee or who has a religious objection to being photographed shall be required to execute an affidavit of identity on a form provided by the county election commission and then shall be allowed to vote. The affidavit shall state that:
    1. The person executing the affidavit is the same individual who is casting the ballot; and
    2. The affiant is indigent and unable to obtain proof of identification without paying a fee or has a religious objection to being photographed.
  6. An identification card issued by a county or municipality or entity thereof, including a public library, containing a photograph shall not be evidence of identification for purposes of verifying the person's identification on the application for ballot.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 365, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-712; Acts 1984, ch. 935, §§ 4-6; 1989, ch. 590, §§ 4, 5; 1990, ch. 727, § 3; 1997, ch. 550, § 8; 2003, ch. 352, §§ 1-3; 2008, ch. 928, § 14; 2008, ch. 1019, § 1; 2009, ch. 218, § 5; 2010, ch. 1100, § 1; 2011, ch. 323, §§ 1-8; 2011, ch. 386, § 1; 2012, ch. 575, § 1; 2012, ch. 938, § 2; 2013, ch. 178, §§ 1-3; 2013, ch. 231, § 9; 2015, ch. 24, § 7; 2018, ch. 726, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2010, ch. 1100, § 153 provided that the commissioner of mental health and developmental disabilities, the commissioner of mental health, the commissioner of intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the commissioner of finance and administration are authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of the act. All such rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

Acts 2015, ch. 24,  § 7 provided that the Tennessee Code Commission is requested to change references in Tennessee Code Annotated, as volumes are replaced and supplements are issued, from "veterans' affairs" and "veterans affairs" to "veterans services" wherever the language appears in reference to the name or commissioner of the Tennessee department of veterans services.

Amendments. The 2015 amendment substituted “veterans services” for “veterans affairs” in the first sentence of (a)(3)(B)(iii).

The 2018 amendment, at the end of the first sentence of (a)(3)(A), substituted “; an election official asserts the individual is not registered to vote; or the voter has requested a ballot pursuant to § 2-6-202” for “or an election official asserts that the individual is not eligible to vote”.

Effective Dates. Acts 2015, ch. 24, § 9. July 1, 2015.

Acts 2018, ch. 726, § 3. April 18, 2018.

Cross-References.

Electors privileged from arrest while voting and on way to and from polling place, Tenn. Const., art. IV, § 3.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Law Reviews.

Changing Focus and Exposing a Solution: Using Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to Defeat Tennessee's Voter Photo ID Law, (Emma Redden), 44 U. Mem. L. Rev. 229 (2013).

College Students and State Voter ID Laws: Can I Vote in the State Where I Attend College? I Have a Student ID Card, 45 U. Mem. L. Rev. 331 (2014).

Constitutional Law — Suffrage and the State's Interest in Preventing Fraud — The Constitutionality of Tennessee's Photo Identification Requirement Under Strict Scrutiny, 81 Tenn. L. Rev. 929 (2014).

Fearing Fear Itself: Photo Identification Laws, Fear of Fraud, and the Fundamental Right to Vote (Joel A. Heller), 62 Vand. L. Rev. 1871 (2009).

Rethinking the Right to Vote Under State Constitutions, 67 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 189 (2014).

The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions (Joshua A. Douglas), 67 Vand. L. Rev. 89 (2014).

Viewing Tennessee's New Photo Identification Requirements for Voters Through Historical And National Lens (Daniel Sullivan), 9 Tenn. J. L. & Pol'y 135 (2013).

Eliminating Barriers to Voting: How Allowing College Students to Use Their Student IDs to Vote in Certain Southeastern States Can Help Make Voting Great in America, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1185 (Summer 2019).

Finding Common Ground on Voter ID Laws, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1233 (Summer 2019).

Attorney General Opinions. Voter identification, constitutionality, OAG 87-186 (12/14/87)

Constitutionality of requiring voter photo identification.  OAG 11-34, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 36 (4/12/11).

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 6, 11.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. “Illegal” Votes.

No individual who voted in the election was not a registered voter, and as such, there was absolutely no proof that the result of the election would be different by even one vote had these registered voters been required to present additional evidence of identification, given that they were all properly registered voters; because the result of the election would have been the same even if additional identification had been requested and presented, none of the votes were “illegal”, and, therefore, the extreme remedy of voiding the election was not appropriate. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 300 S.W.3d 683, 2009 Tenn. App. LEXIS 91 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 27, 2009).

2. Effect of Challenge.

If a voter is challenged on the ground that he is not a registered voter at that polling place, and the voter does not protest and assert that he is qualified to vote there, he is bound by the challenge even if the officials are incorrect. Taylor v. Armentrout, 632 S.W.2d 107, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 520 (Tenn. 1981).

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

The term “entities of this state” within former T.C.A. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A) did not include local government entities and their instrumentalities. Turner-Golden v. Hargett, — F. Supp. 2d —, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109009 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 3, 2012).

3. Constitutionality.

Provision of the Tennessee Voter Identification Act, T.C.A. § 2-7-112, which required that all citizens who appeared in person to vote had to present photographic proof of their identity was valid because the provision did not violate the Tennessee Constitution. City of Memphis v. Hargett, — S.W.3d —, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 1101 (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).

2-7-113. Voting by machine.

  1. When the voter is to vote by voting machine, the voter shall then present the ballot application to the machine operator, enter the machine, and vote by marking the ballot and operating the machine.
  2. The machine operator shall file the ballot applications in order of presentation and shall permit the voter to operate the machine for those elections in which the voter is entitled to vote.
  3. The machine operator shall, upon demand of any voter before the voter enters the machine, tell the voter the order of the offices on the ballot and fully instruct the voter on how to operate the machine.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-713.

2-7-114. Voting by paper ballots.

  1. When the voter is to vote by paper ballot, the voter shall then present the ballot application to the judge who is in charge of paper ballots. The judge shall write the ballot number of each ballot the voter is entitled to on the ballot application, give the ballot or ballots to the voter, and give the ballot application to the judge who is assigned to deposit ballots in the ballot box. The judge shall, upon demand of any voter at the time the voter receives the ballot, tell the voter the order of the offices on the ballot.
    1. The voter shall then go to a place where the voter may mark the ballot in complete secrecy and privacy and shall prepare the ballot by making in the appropriate place a cross (X) or other mark opposite the name of the candidate of the voter's choice for each office to be filled, or by filling in the name of the candidate of the voter's choice in the blank space provided, and by making a cross (X) or other mark opposite the answer the voter desires to give on each question. Before leaving the place of secrecy and privacy, the voter shall fold the ballot so that the votes cannot be seen but so that the information printed on the back of the ballot and the numbered stub are plainly visible.
    2. Any voter who fills in or writes in the name of a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot shall not be required to make a cross (X) or other mark next to such person's name in order for the vote to be counted.
    1. The voter shall state the voter's name and present the folded ballot to the judge assigned to receive and deposit the ballots. The judge shall compare the ballot number on the stub with the ballot number on the voter's ballot application. If the ballot numbers are the same, the judge shall tear off the stub, attach the ballot stub to the voter's application for ballot and direct the voter to deposit the ballot in the ballot box, unless the voter is successfully challenged. The judge shall file all ballot applications and ballot stubs in the order in which they are received. Notwithstanding any other law, the procedure described herein shall govern the voting process in counties using the optical scan voting system.
    2. In counties using an electronic ballot marking system or ballot-on-demand technology approved by the coordinator of elections, a ballot stub number is not required to be preprinted on the paper ballot. The election official shall file all ballot applications in the order in which they are received. When a ballot stub number is not preprinted on the paper ballot, the election commission must reconcile the number of applications issued in the polling place with the number of ballots recorded by the optical scanner used to tabulate the ballots in the polling place. Whenever the total number of applications issued differs from the total number of ballots scanned in a tabulator used in the polling place, the election commission shall complete a written report explaining the difference.
    3. If the voter is voting a provisional ballot pursuant to § 2-7-112(a)(3) and (e), the voter shall state the voter's name and present the folded ballot to the judge assigned to receive and deposit the provisional ballots. The judge shall compare the provisional ballot number on the stub with the provisional ballot number on the voter's ballot application. If the provisional ballot numbers are the same, the judge shall tear off the stub and attach the ballot stub to the voter's application for ballot. The judge shall file all ballot applications and ballot stubs in the order in which they are received. Unless the voter is successfully challenged, the judge shall direct the voter to deposit the provisional ballot into the provisional ballot envelope that contains the provisional ballot affidavit. The judge shall ensure that the provisional ballot affidavit has been completed and signed by the voter and direct the voter to deposit the provisional ballot, in its envelope, in an absentee ballot box that satisfies the requirements for absentee ballot boxes and that has been locked pursuant to § 2-6-311.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-714; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 17; 1997, ch. 558, § 16; 2003, ch. 352, § 4; 2018, ch. 749, § 1; 2020, ch. 655, § 2.

Amendments. The 2018 amendment rewrote (c) which read: “(c)(1)  The voter shall state the voter's name and present the folded ballot to the judge assigned to receive and deposit the ballots. The judge shall compare the ballot number on the stub with the ballot number on the voter's ballot application. If the ballot numbers are the same, the judge shall tear off and destroy the stub and deposit the ballot in the ballot box unless the voter is successfully challenged. The judge shall file all ballot applications in the order in which they are received.“(2)  If the voter is voting pursuant to § 2-7-112(a)(3), the voter shall state the voter's name and present the folded ballot to the judge assigned to receive and deposit the provisional ballots. The judge shall compare the provisional ballot number on the stub with the provisional ballot number on the voter's ballot application. The judge shall file all ballot applications in the order in which they are received. If the provisional ballot numbers are the same, the judge shall tear off and destroy the provisional ballot stub and deposit the provisional ballot in the provisional ballot envelope which contains the provisional ballot affidavit. The judge shall assure that the provisional ballot affidavit has been completed and signed by the voter. The provisional ballot, in its envelope, shall be deposited in an absentee ballot box that satisfies the requirements of the absentee ballot boxes and has been locked pursuant to § 2-6-311.”

The 2020 amendment rewrote (c)(2), which read: “In counties using a ballot marking device, or any other electronic ballot marking system, after the voter completes the application for ballot and the election official records the ballot stub number on the application for ballot, the election official shall attach the ballot stub to the voter's application for ballot. The election official shall file all ballot applications and ballot stubs in the order in which they are received.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2018, ch. 749, § 2. May 2, 2018.

Acts 2020, ch. 655, § 7. April 2, 2020.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2. Validity of Ballot.

It is apparent that the general assembly contemplated that persons marking ballots might not do so in literal compliance with the provisions of the statutes. The last sentence of T.C.A. § 2-7-133(b) indicates a legislative intent that a ballot which is not perfectly marked may still be counted if the intent of the voter can be ascertained therefrom. Hall v. Pate, 611 S.W.2d 577, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 403 (Tenn. 1981).

If a complaint had been properly drawn, the purging by the trial court of a specific number of paper ballots in a particular precinct might well have been appropriate. But in the complaint, the contestant failed to demonstrate that a purge of those ballots would have changed the result of the election or rendered its outcome uncertain. Therefore, the court had no choice but to conclude that the chancellor correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show, district-wide, that the election was so permeated by fraud or illegality as to render the results incurably uncertain or to thwart the will of the electorate. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

The requirement that a voter designate the candidate of his choice by a cross (X) is not mandatory in the sense that a voter who uses a different mark, such as a check mark, will be deprived of his vote, where the intention is clear. Menees v. Ewing, 141 Tenn. 399, 210 S.W. 648, 1918 Tenn. LEXIS 102 (1918).

Ballots marked opposite blank space reserved for write-in candidate were not as a matter of law required to be counted for a candidate whose name appeared immediately above such blank space. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

If a voter makes his choice clear and obvious his vote should be counted but if it is impossible to determine the voter's choice for any office from the face of the ballot his vote should not be counted. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

The question of whether disputed ballots should have been counted by election judges was a question to be determined from what appeared on the face of each ballot and not on evidence aliunde. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

3. —Intention of Voter.

Even though a voter did not make a mark opposite the written-in name, his acts of obtaining a paper ballot and writing the name of appellee strongly indicated his intention to vote for a write-in candidate. Hall v. Pate, 611 S.W.2d 577, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 403 (Tenn. 1981).

Collateral References.

Challenges to Write-in Ballots and Certification of Write-in Candidates. 75 A.L.R.6th 311.

2-7-115. Residence requirements — Primary election voting requirements.

  1. A voter may vote only in the precinct where the voter resides and is registered, but if a registered voter has, at any time prior to voting, changed residence to another place inside the county, the voter must vote pursuant to the provisions of § 2-7-140. If a registered voter has, within ninety (90) days before a state primary or general election or federal primary or general election, changed residence to another place inside Tennessee but outside the county where the voter is registered, the voter may vote in the polling place where the voter is registered. If the voter has, within ninety (90) days before an election, changed name by marriage or otherwise, the voter may vote in the polling place where the voter is registered or is entitled to vote under § 2-7-140.
  2. A registered voter is entitled to vote in a primary election for offices for which the voter is qualified to vote at the polling place where the voter is registered if:
    1. The voter is a bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote; or
    2. At the time the voter seeks to vote, the voter declares allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and states that the voter intends to affiliate with that party.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 801, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-715; Acts 1997, ch. 550, § 9; 2000, ch. 756, § 14.

Cross-References. General assembly authorized to require voters to vote in the precinct where they reside, Tenn. Const., art. IV, § 1.

Primary elections, title 2, ch. 13.

Residents of an area ceded to the federal government entitled to registration, § 2-2-104.

Law Reviews.

Tennessee Civil Disabilities: A Systemic Approach (Neil P. Cohen), 41 Tenn. L. Rev. 253 (1974).

2-7-116. Assistance to disabled, illiterate or blind voters — Certified record — Assistance by person convicted of voter fraud prohibited.

    1. A voter who claims, by reason of illiteracy or physical disability other than blindness, to be unable to mark the ballot to vote as the voter wishes and who, in the judgment of the officer of elections, is so disabled or illiterate, may:
      1. Where voting machines are used, have the ballot marked on a voting machine or on a paper ballot subject to the provisions of § 2-7-117 by any person of the voter's selection, or by one of the judges of the voter's choice in the presence of either a judge of a different political party or, if such judge is not available, an election official of a different political party; or
      2. Where voting machines are not used, have the ballot marked by any person of the voter's selection or by one of the judges of the voter's choice in the presence of either a judge of a different political party or, if such judge is not available, an election official of a different political party.
    2. The officer of elections shall keep a record of each such declaration, including the name of the voter and of the person marking the ballot and, if marked by a judge, the name of the judge or other official in whose presence the ballot was marked. The record shall be certified and kept with the poll books on forms to be provided by the coordinator of elections.
    1. A voter who claims, by reason of blindness, to be unable to mark the ballot to vote as the voter wishes and who, in the judgment of the officer of elections, is blind, may:
      1. Where voting machines are used, have the ballot marked on a voting machine or on a paper ballot subject to the provisions of § 2-7-117 by any person of the voter's selection or by one of the judges of the voter's choice in the presence of either a judge of a different political party or, if such judge is not available, an election official of a different political party; or
      2. Where voting machines are not used, have the ballot marked by any person of the voter's selection or by one of the judges of the voter's choice in the presence of either a judge of a different political party or, if such judge is not available, an election official of a different political party.
    2. The officer of elections shall keep a record of each such declaration, including the name of the voter and of the person marking the ballot and, if marked by a judge, the name of the judge or other official in whose presence the ballot was marked. The record shall be certified and kept with the poll books on forms to be provided by the coordinator of elections.
    1. A voter, who is physically disabled or who is visibly pregnant or frail, may request the officer of elections at the polling place for permission to be moved to the front of any line. In accordance with policies and procedures promulgated by the state coordinator of elections and at the discretion of the officer of elections, the requesting voter may be moved to the front of any line at the polling place.
    2. A temporary sign, restating the language of subdivision (c)(1), shall be prominently and strategically posted at the polling place whenever voting is underway at the polling place.
  1. Notwithstanding this section or any other law to the contrary, a person convicted of voter fraud in any state shall not assist a person in casting a vote.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 2, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-716; Acts 1997, ch. 122, § 1; 1997, ch. 558, § 8; 1997, ch. 558, §§ 8, 9; 1998, ch. 719, §§ 1, 2; 2005, ch. 301, § 1; 2019, ch. 271, § 4.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment added (d).

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 271, § 5. April 30, 2019.

Cross-References. Ballot supplies for persons with visual impairments, § 2-5-218.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, §§ 12, 23.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

This section, in requiring that voters who are blind or otherwise disabled reveal their vote to two election judges under certain circumstances in order to receive voting assistance, in effect establishes two classes of voters with respect to voting secrecy, which classification has a rational basis and is justified by a compelling state need, and this section does not violate the equal protection of laws clause of U.S. Const., amend. 14 or amend. 15, nor Tenn. Const., art. IV, § 1. Smith v. Dunn, 381 F. Supp. 822, 1974 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7417 (M.D. Tenn. 1974).

2. Election Contest.

Judgment declaring the candidate's opponent the winner of the election was affirmed in accordance with T.R.A.P. 24(c), because the appellate court must presume that the evidence supported the trial court's findings and ultimate conclusion that the candidate had not proven that the two votes were illegal such that a new election should be ordered; in order for the candidate to prove that there were two illegal votes, he must demonstrate that the two voters voted by paper ballot when all others voters voted by machine, and that these two voters did not use a paper ballot because they were in need of assistance pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-7-116. Reinhardt v. Neal, 241 S.W.3d 472, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 368 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 919 (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 947 (Tenn. Oct. 22, 2007).

Collateral References.

Voting rights of persons mentally incapacitated. 80 A.L.R.3d 1116.

2-7-117. Write-in procedure where voting machines are used.

  1. Where voting machines are used, any voter desiring to cast a ballot for a candidate whose name is not on the voting machine ballot may request a paper ballot to be furnished by the ballot judge. This request must be made before operating a voting machine, and a voter after receiving a paper ballot may not enter a voting machine.
  2. The procedure for casting a write-in ballot in counties which use or have a C.E.S., Inc., Votomatic or other comparable punch card voting system shall be governed by rules and regulations promulgated by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission relative to the use of punch card voting systems.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-717; Acts 1988, ch. 672, § 4.

Collateral References.

Challenges to Write-in Ballots and Certification of Write-in Candidates. 75 A.L.R.6th 311.

2-7-118. Time limit for voting — Removal of voter.

  1. No voter who is voting without assistance may remain in a voting machine booth or occupy a voting compartment for more than five (5) minutes if other voters are waiting or more than ten (10) minutes in any event.
  2. If a voter refuses to leave after such time elapses, the officer of elections shall have the voter removed.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-718; Acts 2004, ch. 480, § 9.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

Voters in the election were faced with a ballot presented to them that was of such length that 46% of the voters took longer than five minutes and 5% of the voters took ten minutes or more to vote, and to hold these votes illegal would be to disenfranchise those voters for something over which they had neither the control nor the responsibility; there was no evidence that any voter who exceeded the time limit did so for an improper purpose or for any reason other than the length of the ballot. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 300 S.W.3d 683, 2009 Tenn. App. LEXIS 91 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 27, 2009).

2-7-119. Machine out of order — Procedure.

  1. If a voting machine being used in an election becomes out of order, it shall be repaired if possible or another machine substituted as promptly as possible.
  2. If repair or substitution cannot be made and other machines at the polling place cannot handle the voters, the paper ballots provided for the polling place shall be used and, if necessary, ballots shall be provided under § 2-7-108.
  3. If a voting machine becomes out of order while it is being used, the crosses (X) shall be cleared from its face by the names of candidates and by questions. The voter may then vote on another machine or by paper ballot as the judges decide.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-719.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Election Challenge.

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

2-7-120. Spoiled ballots.

If any voter spoils a paper ballot, the voter may obtain others, one (1) at a time, not exceeding three (3) in all, upon returning each spoiled one. The spoiled ballots shall be placed in an envelope marked “Spoiled Ballots.”

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-720.

2-7-121. Rejected ballots.

No person may take any ballot from the polling place before the close of the polls. If a voter refuses to give the paper ballot to the judge to be deposited in the ballot box after marking it, the officer of elections shall require that the ballot be surrendered to the officer and shall deposit it in a sealed envelope marked “Rejected” with the person's name, the reason for rejection, and the officer's signature.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-721.

2-7-122. Management of machine during voting.

  1. The voting machine operator shall inspect the face of the machine after every voter has voted to ascertain that the ballot labels are in their proper places and that the machine has not been injured or tampered with. The operator shall remove any campaign literature left in the machine booth.
  2. During the election the door or other compartment of the machine may not be unlocked or opened or the counters exposed except by the voting machine technician or other authorized person, a statement of which shall be made and signed by the voting machine technician or authorized person and attached to the returns.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-722.

2-7-123. Challenges to right to vote — Oath of challenged voter.

If any person's right to vote is challenged by any other person present at the polling place, the judges shall present the challenge to the person and decide the challenge after administering the following oath to the challenged voter: “I swear (affirm) that I will give true answers to questions asked about my right to vote in the election I have applied to vote in.” A person who refuses to take the oath may not vote.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-723.

2-7-124. Challenges — Grounds and procedure.

  1. A person offering to vote may be challenged only on the grounds that the person:
    1. Is not a registered voter in Tennessee and did not vote a provisional ballot;
    2. Is not a resident of the precinct where the person seeks to vote;
    3. Is not the registered voter under whose name the person has applied to vote;
    4. Has already voted in the election; or
    5. Has become ineligible to vote in the election being conducted at the polling place since the person registered.
  2. The judges may ask any question which is material to deciding the challenge and may put under oath and ask questions of such persons as they deem necessary to their decision. The judges shall ask the administrator of elections to check the original permanent registration records if the voter claims to be registered but has no duplicate permanent registration record.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-724; Acts 1997, ch. 550, § 10; 2003, ch. 352, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-7-125. Challenged voter — Voting procedure.

  1. If the judges determine unanimously that the person is not entitled to vote, the person shall vote by paper ballot and the person's ballot shall be deposited in a sealed envelope marked “Rejected” with the person's name, the reason for rejection, and the signatures of the judges written on it.
  2. If the judges do not agree unanimously to rejection, the person shall be permitted to vote as if unchallenged.
  3. In either case the challenge and outcome shall be noted on the back of the voter's duplicate permanent registration record and on the poll lists.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-725.

2-7-126. Challenge on ground of party membership.

A person offering to vote in a primary may also be challenged on the ground that the person is not qualified under § 2-7-115(b). Such a challenge shall be disposed of under the procedure of §§ 2-7-1232-7-125 by the judge or judges and the other election officials of the party in whose primary the voter applied to vote, with a total of three (3) to decide the challenge.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-726.

2-7-127. Closing of the polling place.

At the time set for the closing of the polling place, the officer of elections shall place one (1) of the election officials at the end of the line of persons waiting to vote. No other person may then get in line to vote. The polls shall be closed as soon as all persons in the line ahead of the election official have voted regardless of when the polls opened.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-727.

Attorney General Opinions. Absentee and early voting ballots may not be totaled—and thus may not be released—until all polling places in the county are closed.  Under T.C.A. § 2-7-127, polling places are closed only when all persons waiting in line to vote at the time set for closing have voted. OAG 19-12, 2019 Tenn. AG LEXIS 15 (8/26/2019).

2-7-128. Duties after closing the polls.

The registrars shall, immediately after the polls close, cross (X) out the remaining space on incomplete poll list sheets so that no additional names can be written in and shall number those sheets serially and place them in the poll book binders.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-728.

2-7-129. Unused paper ballots — Disposal.

Immediately after the polls close and before any ballot box or voting machine is opened to count votes, the judges shall tear all unused paper ballots in half without tearing off the numbered stubs. The portion without the stubs may then be discarded, and the portion with the stubs shall be preserved.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-729.

2-7-130. Locking of machine — Canvass and proclamation of votes on voting machines.

    1. After the polls have closed and after disposal of unused paper ballots, the judges shall then lock and seal the voting machines against voting. The judges shall sign a certificate on the tally sheets, stating that:
      1. Each machine has been locked against voting and sealed;
      2. The number of voters as shown on the public counters;
      3. The numbers on the seals; and
      4. The numbers registered on the protective counters.
    2. The judges shall then open the counter compartment in the presence of the watchers and all other persons who are present, giving full view of all the counter numbers. One (1) of the judges, under the scrutiny of a judge of a different political party, in the order of the offices as their titles are arranged on the machine, shall read aloud in distinct tones the designating number and letter, if any, on each counter for each candidate's name and the result as shown by the counter numbers. The judge shall in the same manner announce the vote on each question. The counters shall not in the case of presidential electors be read consecutively along the party row or column, but shall always be read along the office columns or rows, completing the canvass for each office. The total shown beside the words “Electors for (giving the name) candidate for President and for (giving the name) candidate for Vice President” shall operate as a vote for all the candidates for presidential electors for those candidates for president and vice president.
    3. The vote as registered shall be entered on the duplicate tally sheets in ink by the precinct registrars in the same order on the space which has the same designating number and letter, if any. The minority party precinct registrar shall then read aloud the figures from the tally sheet filled in by the majority party precinct registrar for verification by the minority party judge.
    4. After proclamation of the vote on the voting machines, ample opportunity shall be given to any person present to compare the results so announced with the counter dials of the machine.
    5. The judges shall make corrections.
  1. When voting machines are employed such as those of Shoup manufacture, which achieve the effect of seals by the utilization of master keys, sealing the machines upon the close of polls shall be unnecessary.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1976, ch. 416, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-730.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 14.

2-7-131. Counting of ballots.

  1. After the requirements of § 2-7-130 have been met or, where voting machines are not used, after the polling place closes, the judges shall open the ballot box in the polling place in the presence of the watchers and all other persons who are present.
  2. The judges shall alternate in drawing ballots from the box and reading aloud within sight of the other judges the names of the persons who have been voted for on each ballot, and the two (2) precinct registrars shall record the votes at the same time for counting on record sheets. The completed record sheets shall be bound in the poll books.
  3. Two (2) judges of different political parties shall then compute the votes for each candidate and each position on a question and shall enter the totals for the paper ballots on the duplicate tally sheets in ink. The third judge shall verify the computation and entry of the totals.
  4. The paper ballot vote totals shall then be announced.
    1. Notwithstanding subsections (a)-(d), if paper ballots are used pursuant to § 2-5-206(e)(2), the county election commission may have such paper ballots counted by the central absentee ballot counting board pursuant to § 2-6-302, after the ballot boxes have been transported to the county election commission office.
    2. The coordinator of elections may promulgate rules and procedures to implement this subsection (e).
    1. Notwithstanding subsections (a)-(d), the county election commission may instruct the officer of elections and a judge of a different political party to transport the locked ballot box or boxes containing voted paper ballots to the county election commission office to have such paper ballots counted by the central absentee ballot counting board pursuant to § 2-6-302. The central absentee ballot counting board utilized in accordance with this subsection (f) may be the same members as a counting board that has already been appointed in like manner to the absentee ballot counting board established under § 2-6-302 or it may contain different members that have been appointed in like manner to such a board. The county election commission may only exercise this option if the ballot box or boxes used in the polling place satisfy the requirements of the absentee ballot boxes and have been locked pursuant to § 2-6-311.
    2. Where the write-in feature of a direct recording electronic voting machine has been used, the county election commission may instruct the officer of elections and a judge of a different political party to transport the locked ballot box or boxes containing the voting machine printer tape containing the write-in names to the county election commission office to have such paper ballots counted by the central absentee ballot counting board pursuant to § 2-6-302. The central absentee ballot counting board utilized in accordance with this subsection (f) may be the same members as a counting board that has already been appointed in like manner to the absentee ballot counting board established under § 2-6-302 or it may contain different members that have been appointed in like manner to such a board.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-731; Acts 1997, ch. 287, § 1; 2003, ch. 352, § 6.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 14.

2-7-132. Completion of duplicate tally sheets — Certification — Final proclamation of vote.

  1. After the completion of the requirements of § 2-7-131, the duplicate tally sheets shall then be completed, showing the total number of votes cast for each office and question, the total number of votes cast for each candidate, including write-in candidates, and for each position on a question.
  2. The duplicate tally sheets shall be certified correct and signed by each judge and by the officer of elections and shall be placed in the poll books.
  3. A final proclamation shall then be made as to the total vote received by each candidate and for each position on questions.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-732.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

The case law of this state recognizes that statutory violations alone may be sufficient to invalidate an election, especially where they thwart those statutory provisions designed to: (1) Prevent undue influence or intimidation of the free and fair expression of the will of the electors; or (2) Ensure that only those who meet the statutory requirements for eligibility to vote, cast ballots. But not every irregularity, or even a combination of irregularities, will necessitate the invalidation of an election. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

Courts should be appropriately reluctant to take the step of declaring an election invalid. Forbes v. Bell, 816 S.W.2d 716, 1991 Tenn. LEXIS 349 (Tenn. 1991).

2-7-133. Ballots which may be counted.

  1. Only ballots provided in accordance with this title may be counted. The judges shall write “Void” on others and sign them.
  2. If the voter marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office, or if for any reason it is impossible to determine the voter's choice for any office to be filled or on a question, the voter's ballot shall not be counted for such office and shall be marked “Uncounted” beside the office and be signed by the judges. It shall be counted so far as it is properly marked or so far as it is possible to determine the voter's choice.
  3. If two (2) ballots are rolled up together or are folded together, they shall not be counted. The judges shall write on them “Void” and the reason and sign them.
  4. Any ballot marked by the voter for identification shall not be counted. The judges shall write on it “Void” and the reason and sign it.
  5. Ballots which are not counted shall be kept together and shall be bundled separately from the ballots which are counted.
  6. [Deleted by 2019 amendment.]
  7. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, if a voter marks a paper or optical scan ballot with a cross, “x”, checkmark or any other appropriate mark within the square, circle or oval to the right of the candidate's name, or any place within the space in which the name appears, indicating an intent to vote for that candidate, it is a vote for the candidate whose name it is opposite. Underlining or circling the candidate's name would also constitute a vote. Any apparent erasure of a mark next to the name of a candidate may not be counted as a vote for that candidate if the voter makes another mark next to the name of one (1) or more different candidates for the same office and counting of the mark would result in an excess number of votes cast for the office.
  8. If a voter casts more than one (1) vote for the same candidate for the same office, the first vote is valid and the remaining votes are invalid.
    1. Any person attempting to be elected by write-in ballots shall complete a notice requesting such person's ballots be counted in each county of the district no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, fifty (50) days before the general election. Such person shall only have votes counted in counties where such notice was completed and timely filed. The notice shall be on a form prescribed by the coordinator of elections and shall not require signatures of any person other than the write-in candidate requesting ballots be counted. The coordinator of elections shall distribute such form to the county election commissions. Upon timely receiving the notice required by this subsection (i), the county election commission shall promptly inform the state coordinator of elections, the registry of election finance, as well as all other candidates participating in the affected election. A write-in candidate may withdraw the notice by filing a letter of withdrawal in the same manner as the original notice was filed no later than the fifth day before the election.
    2. A candidate defeated in a primary election shall not complete a notice requesting write-in ballots to be counted in the general election under subdivision (i)(1), and any write-in votes cast for the candidate in the general election must not be counted.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-733; Acts 2001, ch. 413, § 1; 2001, ch. 465, §§ 2-4; 2003, ch. 307, § 4; 2005, ch. 302, § 1; 2007, ch. 125, § 6; 2008, ch. 928, § 15; 2009, ch. 218, § 6; 2019, ch. 128, § 1; 2019, ch. 250, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2001, ch. 465, § 1, provided that the act shall be known and may be cited as “The 2000 Presidential Election Debacle Reform Bill of 2001.”

Amendments. The 2019 amendment by ch. 128 added (i)(2).

The 2019 amendment by ch. 250, effective October 1, 2019, deleted former (f) which read: “(f)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a vote shall be counted if a recount is undertaken on a punchcard ballot under the following conditions:“(1)  When at least two (2) corners of the chad are detached;“(2)  Light is visible through the hole; or“(3)  An indentation of the chad from the stylus or other object is present and indicates a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 128, § 2. April 9,  2019.

Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 9. October 1, 2019.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

Attorney General Opinions. Notice requirement for write-in candidates is constitutionally defensible, OAG 04-023 (2/12/04).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. In General.

It is apparent from the provisions of T.C.A. § 2-7-133 that the intention of the voter is paramount and should be honored if it can be reasonably ascertained. Hall v. Pate, 611 S.W.2d 577, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 403 (Tenn. 1981).

Candidate could not proceed under the Declaratory Judgment Act because an allegation against the Tennessee State Election Commission (TSEC) pertaining to an unconstitutional statute was a threshold requirement to remove or waive immunity, and the candidate did not make such an allegation but sought a declaration as to the TSEC's duty to educate voters; accordingly, the chancery court lacked jurisdiction to hear his suit for declaratory judgment under the Act. Johnston v. Tenn. State Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2016 Tenn. App. LEXIS 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 27, 2016), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2017 Tenn. LEXIS 49 (Tenn. Jan. 19, 2017).

If a voter makes his choice clear and obvious his vote should be counted but if it is impossible to determine the voter's choice for any office from the face of the ballot his vote should not be counted. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

The question of whether disputed ballots should have been counted by election judges was a question to be determined from what appeared on the face of each ballot and not on evidence aliunde. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

2. Constitutionality.

Trial court properly dismissed a write-in candidate's constitutional challenge to the write-in candidate statute because the statute was constitutional as written and as applied where it was narrowly written to allow election officials to know the supplies needed and the instructions to give to poll officials in order to accommodate those who wished to write-in their votes, the Election Code was comprehensive, and the candidate acknowledged that he did not comply with the requirements. Johnston v. Davidson County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2014 Tenn. App. LEXIS 171 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2014), review denied and ordered not published, — S.W.3d —, 2014 Tenn. LEXIS 684 (Tenn. Sept. 22, 2014).

3. Legislative Intent.

It is apparent that the General Assembly contemplated that persons marking ballots might not do so in literal compliance with the provisions of the statutes. The last sentence of subsection (b) indicates a legislative intent that a ballot which is not perfectly marked may still be counted if the intent of the voter can be ascertained therefrom. Hall v. Pate, 611 S.W.2d 577, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 403 (Tenn. 1981).

4. Writing Name of Candidate.

Even though a voter did not make a mark opposite the written-in name, his acts of obtaining a paper ballot and writing the name of appellee strongly indicated his intention to vote for a write-in candidate. Hall v. Pate, 611 S.W.2d 577, 1981 Tenn. LEXIS 403 (Tenn. 1981).

5. Ballots Marked Opposite Space for Write-ins.

Ballots marked opposite blank space reserved for write-in candidate were not as a matter of law required to be counted for candidate whose name appeared immediately above such blank space. Reeder v. Holt, 220 Tenn. 428, 418 S.W.2d 249, 1967 Tenn. LEXIS 424 (1967).

Collateral References.

Challenges to Write-in Ballots and Certification of Write-in Candidates. 75 A.L.R.6th 311.

2-7-134. Return of keys at close of election.

After the tally sheets have been certified, the judges shall close and lock the voting machines and enclose the keys for each voting machine in a separate sealed envelope on which they shall certify the number of the machine, the polling place where it has been used, the number on the seal, and the numbers registered on the public and protective counters.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-734.

2-7-135. Lists of election officials prepared by officer of elections.

  1. The officer of elections shall prepare and certify to the county election commission a list of all election officials who served at the polling place and their official positions. The list shall be signed by each official.
  2. The officer of elections shall certify to the county election commission the names of those persons appointed as officials for the polling place before the election who failed to appear and discharge the duties of office.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-735.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Validity of Lists.

Where a list of the names of everyone who worked at a particular place was prepared by the chief officer in each voting place and the secretary of the county election commission then submitted these lists to the chairman of the county court the warrants based on such lists were valid as this constituted a certification of the lists by the commission. Brenner v. State, 217 Tenn. 427, 398 S.W.2d 252, 1965 Tenn. LEXIS 651 (1965).

2-7-136. Public announcement of results — Certification of results on demand of any candidate or watcher.

When the certification of the tally sheets is complete, the officer of elections shall publicly announce the results and shall, on demand of any candidate or watcher present, furnish such person a certified copy of the results. The certificate shall include the names of all candidates appearing on the ballot, the number of votes received by each and the number of votes for and against each question, including separately the total number of votes cast for each by voting machine and by paper ballot. The certificate shall be signed by the officer of elections and the judges and may be used as competent evidence in case of a contest regardless of what tribunal is hearing the contest.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-736.

2-7-137. Items to be locked in ballot box after certification of the completed tally sheets.

After certification of the completed tally sheets and the performance of the other duties of this chapter, the officer of elections shall have the following items placed in the ballot box or boxes which shall then be locked:

  1. The bound bundles of paper ballots;
  2. The record of voter assistance;
  3. The envelopes containing spoiled ballots;
  4. The envelopes containing rejected ballots;
  5. The poll books;
  6. The bound applications for ballots;
  7. The portions of unused paper ballots containing the numbered stubs;
  8. The envelopes containing the voting machine keys; and
  9. The ballot box keys.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-737; Acts 1982, ch. 871, § 1.

Cross-References. Locking absentee ballot boxes, § 2-6-311.

2-7-138. Delivery of locked ballot box and supplies or equipment to county election commission.

The officer of elections, accompanied by either a judge or precinct registrar of another political party, shall immediately deliver the locked ballot box or boxes and remaining election supplies or equipment except the voting machines to the county election commission.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-738.

2-7-139. Removal of supplies from polling place prohibited.

No election supplies, ballots or equipment may be removed from a polling place from the opening of the polls until the requirements of § 2-7-137 have been met except that items which have been delivered to the wrong polling place may be transferred to the correct one.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-739.

2-7-140. Procedures for certain inactive voters.

  1. Voters whose registration is in inactive status because of a failure to respond to a confirmation notice described in § 2-2-106(c) and voters who have changed their address of residence to a new address within the county of registration shall be required to vote under the procedures of this section.
  2. An inactive voter who has not moved or any registered voter of the county who has changed residence to a new address within the same voting precinct shall be required to make a written affirmation of such voter's current address and that the voter is entitled to vote before voting. This affirmation shall be made on a standard form provided by the county election commission and shall be made before the officer of elections at the voter's polling place or the appropriate election official at an early voting site. The voter may then vote using the same method as any other voter at the polling place.
  3. A registered voter of the county who has changed residence to a new address within the county of registration but outside such voter's former voting precinct shall be required to make a written affirmation of the voter's current address and that the voter is entitled to vote before voting;
    1. If a voter under this subsection (c) appears at an early voting location and makes the proper affirmation, the election official shall allow the voter to vote the ballot for the voter's new precinct of residence using the same method as any other voter at the polling place;
      1. If a voter under this subsection (c) appears at such voter's former polling place, the voter cannot cast any ballot at that location. An election official shall make a determination of the voter's new polling place and inform the voter of the appropriate place to vote. The voter shall be required to make a written affirmation of the voter's current address and that the voter is entitled to vote. The official at the voter's former polling location shall indicate on the affirmation that the person has not been allowed to vote at that location and shall give the voter a copy of the form to take to such voter's new polling location. Upon presenting that affirmation at the new polling location and verification that the new address is within that precinct, the voter shall be allowed to vote using the same method as any other voter at the polling place;
      2. A county election commission may establish a centrally located site or sites to be designated by such commission for voters voting under this subdivision (c)(2);
      3. If a county election commission elects to establish a centrally located site or sites, then the official at such former polling location shall notify the voter that the voter has the option to vote either at the new polling place or at the centrally located site or sites. If a central location is other than the county election commission office, then such centrally located site shall be equipped with computer capabilities linked to the county election commission office to allow the voter's records to be changed or corrected in the same manner as if the voter were to appear at the county election commission office on election day in order that the voter may cast the appropriate ballot;
    2. If a voter under this subsection (c) appears at a polling location where the voter is not currently registered, and does not have a copy of the form described in subdivision (c)(2), the election official shall make a determination as to whether that voter's new address is within the voting precinct for that polling location. If the voter now resides in that precinct, the voter shall be required to make a written affirmation of the voter's current address and that the voter is entitled to vote. The fact that this person is a registered voter must be confirmed by the county election commission before this person's vote is counted.
  4. If a voter described in subsection (a) applies for an absentee ballot, the voter shall fill out the appropriate portion of the absentee application to affirm the voter's address and that the voter is entitled to vote. This affirmation would not have to be made in front of an election official. Upon receiving a proper application, the administrator of elections shall send the voter a ballot for the precinct where the voter now resides and update the registration based upon the affirmation as necessary.

Acts 1997, ch. 550, § 2; 2003, ch. 307, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

2-7-141. Procedures for certain active voters.

  1. If the registration of a voter has been transferred to a new precinct within the same county pursuant to § 2-2-129(b)(2)(A), the voter shall be required to vote under the procedures of this section.
    1. A registered voter whose registration has been transferred pursuant to § 2-2-129(b)(2)(A), but who has in fact not moved or has moved to a different address from that supplied by the postal service, shall be required to make a written affirmation of such registered voter's current address of residence and that the voter is entitled to vote before voting. This affirmation shall be made on a standard form provided by the county election commission and shall be made before the officer of elections at the voter's polling place or the appropriate election official at an early voting site. The voter may then vote using the same method as any other voter at the polling place. The fact that this voter is a registered voter and has not already voted in the current election must be confirmed by the county election commission before this person may vote.
    2. A county election commission may establish a centrally located site or sites to be designated by such commission for voters voting under this subsection (b).
    3. If a county election commission elects to establish a centrally located site or sites, then the official at such polling location shall notify the voter that the voter has the option to vote either at the new polling place or at a centrally located site or sites. If a central location is other than the county election commission office, then such centrally located site shall be equipped with computer capabilities linked to the county election commission office to allow the voter's records to be changed or corrected in the same manner as if the voter were to appear at the county election commission office on election day in order that the voter may cast the appropriate ballot.
  2. A registered voter whose registration has been transferred pursuant to § 2-2-129(b)(2)(A), who has in fact moved to the new address of residence recorded by the administrator of elections, and who appears to vote at an early voting site or at the new precinct to which the voter's registration has been transferred, shall vote using the same method as any other voter at the polling place.

Acts 1999, ch. 499, § 2; 2003, ch. 307, § 2.

Cross-References. Procedures for transfer of registration, § 2-2-129.

2-7-142. Use of mobile electronic or communication devices at polling places.

  1. A county election commission shall not prohibit a voter from using a mobile electronic or communication device at a polling place for informational purposes to assist the voter in making election decisions. A county election commission may require that any mobile electronic or communication device be silenced while in use at the polling place.
  2. Any voter using a mobile electronic or communication device as allowed in subsection (a) shall be prohibited from using the device for telephone conversations, recording, or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place.

Acts 2015, ch. 315, § 1.

Compiler's Note. For the Preamble to the act concerning legislative findings related to use of mobile electronic or communication devices at polling places, see Acts 2015, ch. 315.

Effective Dates. Acts 2015, ch. 315, § 2. January 1, 2016.

Attorney General Opinions. The regulations in T.C.A. § 2-7-142 do not violate the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution.  The interior of a polling place is a nonpublic forum.  The government may, without violating either the U.S. or the Tennessee Constitution, regulate speech and expressive conduct in a nonpublic forum as long as the regulation is reasonable in light of that forum’s purpose.  The prohibitions in T.C.A. § 2-7-142 are content-neutral regulations that are reasonable in light of the purposes of a polling place, which include (1) ensuring privacy of the ballot, speed and efficiency of the voting process, and integrity of the election, and (2) preventing disruption and distraction for voters, voter intimidation, and interference and fraud in the balloting process. OAG 16-49, 2016 Tenn. AG LEXIS 48 (12/22/2016).

2-7-143. Tennessee Freedom of Speech Act.

  1. This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Tennessee Freedom of Speech Act.”
  2. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, during the period beginning sixty (60) days before a general election until the day after the next subsequent general election:
    1. This state, a local government, or any other political subdivision of this state:
      1. Shall not regulate the shape or quantity of political or campaign posters or signs placed on private property that is located more than one hundred feet (100') from a polling place if the signs or posters are placed on the property by the owner of the property or any lawful resident of a residence on the property;
      2. May prohibit, notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1)(A), any political or campaign poster or sign covered by this section from exceeding:
        1. For commercial property, thirty-two square feet (32 sq. ft.) in size; and
        2. For residential property, sixteen square feet (16 sq. ft.) in size; and
      3. Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1)(A), may adopt reasonable restrictions limiting the number of political campaign signs or posters that may be placed on property; provided, that such restrictions authorize an owner or resident to place at least one (1) poster or sign on the property per candidate, issue, or subject; and
    2. A homeowners' association shall not, by covenant, condition, restriction, or rule, prohibit the display of political or campaign posters or signs placed on private property by the owner of the property or any lawful resident of a residence on the property. A homeowners' association may adopt reasonable covenants, conditions, restrictions, or rules with respect to the placement of political or campaign posters or signs placed on homeowner association common space and private property maintained by the owner or resident, including limiting the size of campaign posters or signs in those common and private property areas to four square feet (4 sq. ft.).
  3. A lessor of residential property may require a lessee to obtain the written permission of the lessor prior to placing any political or campaign posters or signs on such residential property. Any such requirement must be included in the lease or rental agreement.
  4. This section applies to any clause, covenant, condition, restriction, or rule contained in any agreement or contract between a homeowners' association and property owner or between a lessor and lessee executed or modified after July 1, 2017.

Acts 2017, ch. 294, § 1.

Code Commission Notes.

In 2020, the text of Acts 2017, ch. 294, § 2 was added as subsection (d) by authority of the Code Commission.

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 294, § 3. July 1, 2017.

Attorney General Opinions. Political canvassing is an expressive activity protected by the First Amendment, but the First Amendment prohibits only state action that abridges speech or expression. Homeowners' associations are private entities, not state actors, and are not subject to the First Amendment. Thus, private homeowners' associations may prohibit or otherwise restrict political canvassing without implicating the First Amendment.  Furthermore, the Tennessee Freedom of Speech Act does not place any restrictions on homeowners' associations with respect to political canvassing. Nor do other statutes limit the authority of homeowners' associations to prohibit or otherwise restrict political canvassing. OAG 19-13, 2019 Tenn. AG LEXIS 34 (9/5/2019).

Chapter 8
Determination of Results

2-8-101. Meeting of county election commission following election.

  1. The county election commission shall meet at its office upon completion of its duties under § 2-8-104, but no later than the third Monday after the election to compare the returns on the tally sheets, to certify the results as shown by the returns in writing signed by at least the majority of them, and to perform the duties prescribed by this chapter.
  2. The commission may not recount any paper ballots, including absentee ballots.
  3. Upon the completion of the vote tabulation on election night, each county election commission shall report unofficial results to the coordinator of elections in a form prescribed by the coordinator.
  4. Any county election commission which fails to certify any election by the deadlines set forth in subsection (a), unless such failure is determined by the state election commission to be for good cause, shall forfeit any compensation due the members for the holding of such election. The chair of the state election commission shall promptly notify the chief fiscal officer of any county of such failure to certify under the provisions of this section.
  5. Upon certifying the results of a referendum held by a municipality or county pursuant to title 57, the county election commission shall send certification of the results to the alcoholic beverage commission.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 8; T.C.A., § 2-801; Acts 2001, ch. 465, § 6; 2008, ch. 1108, § 5; 2013, ch. 179, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2008, ch. 1108, § 1 provided that the act shall be known and may be cited as the “Tennessee Voter Confidence Act.”

Acts 2001, ch. 465, § 1, provided that the act shall be known and may be cited as “The 2000 Presidential Election Debacle Reform Bill of 2001.”

Collateral References.

Parol evidence of election officials to impeach election returns. 46 A.L.R.2d 1385.

2-8-102. Undelivered returns.

If the returns from any polling place have not been delivered to the county election commission by the first day after an election, the commission shall employ either a special messenger, a member of its staff or a member of the commission to obtain the missing returns.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-802.

2-8-103. Form of returns — Sufficiency.

No return, poll list, or certificate made under this title may be disregarded or rejected for want of form or on account of its not being strictly in accordance with the requirements of this title if it can be clearly understood. Any such return or certificate signed by a majority of the election officials at the polling place is sufficient.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-803.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris, Elections, § 7.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Application of Section.

Where election returns were certified by only one of three judges but were attested by two clerks and the officer of the election so that it amounted to authentication of the returns by a majority of the election officials, the situation was a proper one for the application of former similar provisions, and the returns could not be rejected even though the procedure was not strictly in accordance with statute. Peeler v. State, 190 Tenn. 615, 231 S.W.2d 321, 1950 Tenn. LEXIS 528 (1950).

2. Absence of Jurat on Oath of Officials.

Absence of jurat on oath signed by election officials was an omission of the character contemplated by former similar provisions, and was not grounds for rejection of election returns by election commission. Peeler v. State, 190 Tenn. 615, 231 S.W.2d 321, 1950 Tenn. LEXIS 528 (1950).

2-8-104. Comparing votes from tally tapes to tabulated election results.

The commission, or such persons as it may designate, shall, as soon as possible after the election, compare the votes from the tally tapes of all appropriate sources to the tabulated election results. All candidates, their representatives, representatives of the political parties, and representatives of the press may be present during this process and shall be given ample opportunity to examine the tabulations. The commission shall create a written report of any revisions of any vote totals in such election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-804; Acts 2012, ch. 1101, § 7.

2-8-105. Certification of tabulation and results.

After completing the comparison of the returns, the county election commission shall make and certify the official tabulation and certification of results, showing both precinct and county totals, in the following manner:

  1. In triplicate for the offices of governor, members of the general assembly, presidential and vice presidential elector, members of congress, judge, chancellor, or district attorney general;
  2. In triplicate for questions submitted to the people of the entire state;
  3. In duplicate for any other office not listed in subdivision (1) and for questions submitted to people of a part of the state; and
  4. In triplicate for all primary elections.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 10; T.C.A., § 2-805.

Law Reviews.

Counting the Votes: Electronic Voting Irregularities, Election Integrity, and Public Corruption, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 979 (Summer 2019).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Ministerial Duty.

Losing candidate's claim against a county election commission failed when the candidate's allegation of the winning candidate's disqualification occurred after the election was over because the commission was legally bound in its ministerial capacity to certify the election results. The discretion was not bestowed by the Tennessee General Assembly upon commissions to refrain from certifying election winners on the basis of tardy challenges to a candidate's qualifications. Young v. Stamey, — S.W.3d —, 2020 Tenn. App. LEXIS 118 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2020).

2-8-106. Mailing and filing of tabulation and certification.

  1. The commission shall seal and mail the original of the official tabulation and certification of results prepared pursuant to § 2-8-105(1) and (2) to the secretary of state and take the postmaster's receipt for it and shall mail the first copy to the governor and take the postmaster's receipt for it. The remaining copy shall be filed with the county clerk and the commission shall take the clerk's receipt for it. The aforementioned statements may be delivered personally in lieu of mailing by the deadline set forth in § 2-8-101. In the case of a general election for the office of governor, an additional copy of the returns shall be sent directly to the speaker of the senate as provided by article III, § 2 of the Constitution of Tennessee.
  2. The commission shall deliver the official tabulation and certification of results prepared pursuant to § 2-8-105(3) as follows:
    1. If the election is for a county official, the original to the coordinator of elections and take the postmaster's receipt for it, and file the copy with the county clerk, and take the clerk's receipt for it;
    2. If the election is for a municipal office, the original to the chief administrative offices of the municipality and the copy filed with the county clerk; and
    3. If a question, the original to the coordinator of elections and take the postmaster's receipt for it, and the copy to be filed in the county clerk's office and take the clerk's receipt for it.
  3. The commission shall seal and mail the original of the official tabulation and certification of results prepared pursuant to § 2-8-105(4) to the coordinator of elections and take the postmaster's receipt for it, mail a copy to the chair of the political party's state executive committee and take the postmaster's receipt for it, and deliver the remaining copy to the county clerk and take the clerk's receipt for it.
  4. The official tabulation and certification of results forms to be utilized for elections, both primary and general, for the offices listed in § 2-13-202, and for any question submitted to the voters of the entire state shall be furnished by the coordinator of elections. The county election commission shall furnish the forms for all other elections.
  5. The county election commission shall issue certificates of elections to each person elected except those to be commissioned by the governor.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 132, § 1; 1977, ch. 480, § 3; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 22, 36; T.C.A., § 2-806; Acts 1980, ch. 609, § 1.

2-8-107. Disposition and keeping of pollbooks — Computerized counties.

  1. The commission shall seal and forward all pollbooks containing the original poll list sheets to the secretary of state within ten (10) days after the election to be stored by the secretary of state for nine (9) years, and shall deposit the pollbooks containing the duplicate poll list sheets in the office of the county clerk to be stored by the county clerk for four (4) years in any secure place.
  2. In computerized counties, the commission shall forward to the secretary of state electronically through the AES computer system a list of the names of all voters who participated in the election, verified as to its accuracy, on or before forty-five (45) days after the election, to be stored by the secretary of state for nine (9) years, and shall deposit the list in the office of the county clerk, either printed or in a CD-ROM format, to be stored by the clerk for six (6) years. The commission shall also forward to the secretary of state the list in a CD-ROM format in the time prescribed by law.
  3. The election commission shall keep on file the voter signature list for six (6) years.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 22, 36; T.C.A., § 2-807; Acts 1990, ch. 727, § 4; 1999, ch. 197, § 8; 2007, ch. 125, § 7.

2-8-108. Preservation of paper ballots and other ballot supplies.

  1. The commission shall preserve all paper ballots for six (6) months after the election to which they were cast or offered to be cast and may then dispose of them. During the period in which they are preserved, the packages of ballots shall be kept securely locked and may be opened and the ballots examined only on court order or under chapter 18 of this title.
  2. All other election documents such as applications for all ballots, spoiled and rejected ballots, voter affidavits, records of assistance to voters, etc., shall be preserved by the county election commission for six (6) months or longer if so ordered by a court or by the coordinator of elections. All election documents pertaining to a federal election shall be preserved by the county election commission for twenty-two (22) months.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 6; T.C.A., § 2-808; Acts 2009, ch. 218, § 8.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Election Challenge.

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

2-8-109. Messenger to bring county returns to the secretary of state.

The secretary of state may employ a special messenger to bring the returns filed with the county clerk if those sent by mail fail to arrive. The expenses of the messenger shall be paid out of the state treasury.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 22, 36; 1979, ch. 306, § 9; T.C.A., § 2-809.

2-8-110. Public calculation and comparison of votes — Declaration of election — Certificates of election.

  1. The governor, secretary of state and attorney general and reporter shall, as soon as the returns are received, publicly calculate and compare the votes received by each person for the office of member of the general assembly, presidential and vice presidential elector, member of congress, judge, chancellor, or district attorney general, and declare the person receiving the highest number of votes elected.
  2. The secretary of state shall assure the preservation of the original certification of results executed under this section.
  3. The governor shall furnish each person elected with a certificate of election, which shall also be a commission of office, signed by the governor and the secretary of state. The certificate shall be prima facie evidence of election. A duplicate original of the certificate of election as United States senator shall be sent to the president of the United States senate.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1979, ch. 306, § 3; T.C.A., § 2-810; Acts 1981, ch. 478, § 18; 1995, ch. 305, § 57.

Cross-References. Public officers commissioned, § 8-18-106.

Law Reviews.

Counting the Votes: Electronic Voting Irregularities, Election Integrity, and Public Corruption, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 979 (Summer 2019).

2-8-111. Tie votes.

If there is a tie vote between the two (2) or more persons having the highest number of votes for an office, the state election commission shall cast the deciding vote except that:

  1. The county legislative body may cast the deciding vote for offices filled by the votes of a single county or civil district, or, in the alternative, the legislative body may by resolution call for a run-off election between the tied candidates;
  2. The municipal legislative body shall cast the deciding vote for municipal offices, or, in the alternative, the legislative body may by resolution call for a run-off election between the tied candidates;
  3. The governor shall cast the deciding vote for representatives in congress;
  4. The election shall be void if it is for senator in congress, and the governor shall immediately issue an order directing the holding of a special election for the office; and
  5. The general assembly in joint convention shall cast the deciding vote for governor.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-811; Acts 1981, ch. 478, §§ 4, 5; 1991, ch. 73, § 1; 1995, ch. 305, § 58; 2013, ch. 449, § 1.

Attorney General Opinions. County board of education election, OAG 96-150 (12/31/96).

T.C.A.§ 12-4-101(a)(1) would not prohibit an incumbent commissioner from voting for herself in a decision under T.C.A. § 2-8-111, OAG 06-132 (8/15/06).

Resolving tie votes for elections in single county or civil districts.  OAG 12-62, 2012 Tenn. AG LEXIS 62 (6/7/12).

2-8-112. Messenger to bring county returns to general assembly.

The general assembly may, if it becomes necessary, send a special messenger for the copy of the returns of any particular county deposited with the county clerk. The expenses of the messenger shall be paid out of the state treasury.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 22, 36; T.C.A., § 2-812.

2-8-113. Primary elections — Determination of results.

  1. On the fourth Thursday after a primary election, the state coordinator of elections shall publicly calculate and compare the votes received by each person and declare who has been nominated for office in the primary or elected to the state executive committee. The candidates who receive the highest number of votes shall be declared elected or nominated; provided, that in order for any person to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots, such person must receive a number of write-in votes equal to or greater than five percent (5%) of the total number of registered voters of the district. However, this section shall not apply where there are candidates for the office involved listed on the official ballot.
  2. The coordinator of elections may delegate the duty under subsection (a) to county primary boards with respect to offices to be elected by voters within a single county and, if requested by the state executive committee of a political party, shall delegate such duty to the county primary boards. The county primary boards shall send the results of the primary election to the state party executive committee unless the state party executive committee wishes to exercise its functions under this section as a party primary board. The state party executive committee may revoke or rescind its request that the coordinator of elections delegate such duty to the county primary boards.
  3. Any person trying to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots shall complete a notice requesting such person's ballots be counted in each county of the district no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, fifty (50) days before the primary election. Such person shall only have votes counted in counties where such notice was completed and timely filed. Write-in candidates for the offices of governor, United States senator and representative in the United States congress shall file their notice with the state coordinator of elections. The notice shall be on a form prescribed by the coordinator of elections and shall not require signatures of any person other than the write-in candidate requesting ballots be counted. The coordinator of elections shall distribute such form to the county election commissions. Upon timely receiving the notice required by this subsection (c), the county election commission shall promptly inform the state coordinator of elections, the registry of election finance, as well as all other candidates participating in the affected election. A write-in candidate may withdraw the notice by filing a letter of withdrawal in the same manner as the original notice was filed no later than the fifth day before the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1975, ch. 131, § 1; 1975, ch. 150, § 1; 1977, ch. 480, § 4; T.C.A., § 2-813; Acts 2003, ch. 307, § 3; 2005, ch. 302, § 2; 2006, ch. 965, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 928, § 16; 2009, ch. 218, § 9; 2010, ch. 1137, § 1.

Cross-References. Primary elections, title 2, ch. 13.

Attorney General Opinions. A proposed amendment to the statute, which would change the requirement that write-in candidates in primary elections must receive at least five percent of the “total number of votes cast in the election” in order to win to five percent of the “registered voters in the district,” would indirectly affect independent candidates as the amendment would make it more difficult for write-in candidates for primary elections to meet the five percent requirement, OAG 02-069 (5/22/02).

A 30-day notice requirement in a proposed amendment to the statute referred to 30 days prior to primary election day, OAG 02-069 (5/22/02).

It would be constitutionally permissible to change the requirements for a write-in candidate to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots from five percent of the votes cast to five percent of the registered voters in the district, OAG 02-076 (6/27/02).

A proposed amendment to the statute, which would require a 30 day notice from a person trying to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots, was constitutionally defensible, OAG 02-076 (6/27/02).

Retroactive application of 2006 amendment, OAG 06-138 (9/8/06).

2-8-114. Primary elections — Tie votes.

If the coordinator of elections determines that there is a tie between the two (2) or more candidates for an office who have the highest number of votes, the tie shall be broken as prescribed in the rules of the political party.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 480, § 5; T.C.A., § 2-814.

2-8-115. Primary elections — Certification of nominees.

The coordinator of elections shall certify the names of the nominees of political parties to the county election commission of each county in which the nominees are candidates by the qualifying deadlines set in § 2-5-101.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1977, ch. 480, § 6; T.C.A., § 2-815.

2-8-116. Right of candidate to receive certified copies of poll lists and tally sheets.

Each candidate has the right to have delivered to the candidate by the state election commission or the county election commission certified copies of all poll lists and tally sheets used in the counties in which the candidate ran, upon demand and payment of the regular legal fees.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-816.

Chapter 9
Voting Machines

2-9-101. Specifications — Contract for modification.

  1. A voting machine to be used in Tennessee must provide facilities for voting for candidates at both primary and general elections, at nonpartisan elections or at a combination of a nonpartisan and partisan primary or general election. It must permit a voter to vote for any person for any office, whether or not nominated as a candidate by a political party. It must ensure voting in absolute secrecy. It must permit a voter to vote for any candidate or on any special measure for whom or on which the voter is lawfully entitled to vote but none other. It must permit a voter to vote for the proper number of candidates for an office but no more. It must be provided with a lock or locks by which immediately after the polls are closed any movement of the voting or registering mechanism can be absolutely prevented. It may be either manually or electrically operated. An electric machine must convert to manual operation, and the alternate type of operation must be a standard function of the machine and not be designed as an emergency or temporary device only. Each voting machine shall have not less than eight (8) columns and shall be equipped with interlocks in the following manner:
    1. for the basic lever type machine, interlocks on columns 1, 4, and 7;
    2. for the 2.5 lever type machine, interlocks on columns 1, 4, and 7 and an additional main interlock adjacent to column 10;
    3. on the 3.2 eight column machine, interlocks on columns 1, 4, and 7 and an additional main interlock adjacent to column 8; and
    4. on the 3.2-10.25 lever type machine, interlocks on columns 1, 4, and 7 and an additional main interlock adjacent to column 10.
  2. Any voting machine not presently equipped as described in (a) shall be modified pursuant to a contract to be let by the coordinator of elections through normal purchasing procedures. The contract shall contain such provisions as the coordinator of elections, secretary of state and commissioner of finance and administration shall deem necessary and proper, and shall provide for the use of new parts only. Furthermore, the contract shall provide for the inspection of parts, labor, and equipment by a team of local machine technicians, and the costs of such inspection at the local level shall be borne by the company or firm awarded the contract.
  3. A party lever device enabling a voter to vote for all the nominees of a particular political party by operating a single lever is prohibited except that a party lever shall be provided for each political party's candidates for presidential and vice presidential electors.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-901; Acts 1981, ch. 461, § 1.

Cross-References. Form of ballots on voting machines, § 2-5-206.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 12.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Dismissal of the voter's suit asserting that the legislation authorizing the use of electronic voting machines in some jurisdictions violated Tenn. Const. art. I, § 5 and Tenn. Const. art. IV, § 1, was affirmed because even if the appellate court were to concede that paperless voting could disenfranchise voters under certain circumstances, there was no indication in the complaint that voters were presently being disenfranchised by the current voting system. Mills v. Shelby County Election Comm'n, 218 S.W.3d 33, 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 589 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2006 Tenn. LEXIS 1184 (Tenn. Dec. 18, 2006).

Collateral References.

Electronic voting systems. 12 A.L.R.6th 523.

2-9-102. Equipment furnished for machine.

The county election commission shall have each voting machine furnished:

  1. With an electric light or a substitute for one which will give sufficient light to enable the voters while in the booth to read the ballot labels and to enable election officials to examine the counters; and
  2. With a curtain or other equipment so as to conceal the voter and the voter's action while voting.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-902.

2-9-103. Voting machine technicians.

  1. The representatives of each political party on the county election commission shall jointly appoint a voting machine technician who is a member of their political party and who is qualified by training or experience to prepare and maintain the voting machines, and the county election commission shall appoint as many assistants as may be necessary for the proper preparation of the machines for elections and for their maintenance, storage, and care.
  2. The voting machine technicians, under the direction of the commission, shall have charge of the voting machines and shall represent the commission during the preparation of the voting machines.
  3. The voting machine technicians shall serve at the pleasure of the commissioners who appointed them. The assistants shall serve at the pleasure of the commission.
  4. The commission shall fix the compensation of the voting machine technicians and assistants commensurate with the work required.
  5. Duties imposed on the voting machine technician by this chapter shall be performed jointly by the voting machine technicians.
    1. Any voting machine technician appointed by the county election commission who performs such duties on a part-time basis and who has other full-time employment shall be excused without pay from such full-time employment for the days required for the performance of the technician's duties.
    2. No employer of a voting machine technician being excused from employment pursuant to this section shall require such technician to use vacation time or other leave time for the days such technician has been excused from employment to perform the technician's duties.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-903; Acts 1998, ch. 741, § 1.

2-9-104. Custody of machines and keys.

  1. The local authority adopting voting machines shall have custody of them when they are not in use at an election and shall preserve and keep them in repair. All keys for voting machines shall be securely locked between elections by the voting machine technician. A public officer, who is entitled to the custody of the machine for any period of time, is entitled to the keys necessary for the proper use of the machines in the officer's charge.
  2. Local authorities shall provide ample police protection against tampering with or injury to the voting machines after they have been prepared for and during an election and shall provide adequate storage at all other times.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-904.

2-9-105. Preparation of machines for election.

  1. The county election commission shall have the proper ballot labels placed on the voting machines and shall have the machines put in proper order for voting with the registering counters set at zero (000), the counting mechanisms locked, and each machine sealed with a pre-numbered seal. The voting machine technician shall certify in writing that, before sealing each machine but after preparing it for an election, such technician has tested each voting lever and that each machine is in proper working order.
  2. Before examining the voting machines to determine whether they are properly set up, the commission shall mail notices to the chairs of the county executive committees of the political parties and to independent candidates stating where and when the machines will be examined. Each county executive committee chair and county primary board chair may designate a representative who may be present to see that the machines are properly prepared for use in the election.
  3. When the machines have been examined, the party representatives and either the commission or the voting machine technician shall make a certificate in writing which shall be filed in the county election commission office stating the number of machines, whether all of the machines are set at zero (000), the number registered on each protective counter and the number on each metal seal with which the machines are sealed.
  4. The keys for each machine shall be sealed in an envelope showing the location where the machine is to be used, the number of the machine, the number on the protective counter, and the seal number.
  5. The commission may delegate its duty to examine the machines to the voting machine technician.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1978, ch. 754, § 4; T.C.A., § 2-905; Acts 1992, ch. 895, § 1.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Voiding Elections.

Trial court properly refused to declare a city commission election void as none of alleged technical violations were serious enough to warrant voiding the election, and the candidate failed to prove any violation by the county of the T.C.A. § 2-9-110(a) “approval” requirement; no action regarding voting machine keys was taken with the electronic machines because by design they did not have keys, and the certification document was in full compliance with T.C.A. § 2-9-105(c). King v. Sevier County Election Comm'n, 282 S.W.3d 37, 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 443 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 31, 2008), appeal denied, King v. Sewer County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2009 Tenn. LEXIS 170 (Tenn. Feb. 17, 2009).

2-9-106. Delivery of machines to polling places.

The election commission shall ensure that the voting machines are delivered to the polling places in a timely manner and are set up in the proper manner for use at the election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-906; Acts 2008, ch. 928, § 17.

2-9-107. Storage of machines.

Within twenty-four (24) hours after the close of the polls, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the voting machine technician shall have the machines returned to the storage places provided under § 2-9-104(b).

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., 2-907.

2-9-108. Voting machines to remain locked.

Each voting machine shall remain locked against voting for five (5) days after the certification of the election and as much longer as may be necessary or advisable because of a contest over the result of the election. When another election necessitating the use of a particular voting machine is to be held within a period of thirty (30) days after an election, that voting machine may be opened after five (5) days upon the agreement of all the candidates in the earlier election whose names appeared on the ballot on that machine. A voting machine may be opened and examined upon the order of any court of competent jurisdiction at any time.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-908; Acts 2010, ch. 1137, § 2.

2-9-109. Precincts required to use voting machines — Use of paper ballots in certain municipal elections.

  1. Precincts having more than three hundred (300) registered voters shall be equipped by the county in which they are located with voting machines for use in all elections and smaller precincts may be so equipped. If the governing body of any county does not provide voting machines as required by the preceding sentence, the county election commission, instead of the county governing body, shall equip the precincts with voting machines in accordance with §§ 2-9-112 — 2-9-114. However, in counties having populations of not less than twelve thousand one hundred (12,100) nor more than twelve thousand two hundred (12,200), according to the federal census of 1970 or any subsequent federal census, voting machines for any precinct having fewer than one thousand (1,000) registered voters shall not be purchased without the approval of the county commission.
  2. Any municipality with a population of five thousand (5,000) or less, according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, may elect to use paper ballots instead of voting machines for municipal elections, when there is no opposition for any of the offices involved. Such decision shall be made known to the county election commission at the time the municipality directs the election commission to call its election.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; 1974, ch. 641, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-909; Acts 1982, ch. 661, § 1; 2012, ch. 1101, § 8.

Code Commission Notes.

This section reflects the incorporation into this section of Acts 1974, ch. 641, § 1, which has been added as the last sentence in (a).

Compiler's Notes. For tables of population of Tennessee municipalities, and for U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Law Reviews.

Counting the Votes: Electronic Voting Irregularities, Election Integrity, and Public Corruption, 49 U. Mem. L. Rev. 979 (Summer 2019).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

Chapter 641 of the Public Acts of 1974 amending this section, exempting Benton County from the general laws, violates Tenn. Const., art. XI, § 8. State ex rel. O'Brien v. Massengill, 756 S.W.2d 246, 1988 Tenn. LEXIS 165 (Tenn. 1988).

2. Election Challenge.

Where a candidate lost a judicial election by 119 votes and alleged that irregularities involving the time limit for voting, the use of paper ballots, and evidence of identification warranted a new election, the complaint was properly dismissed in part because the allegations of misconduct on the part of election officials were insufficient to taint the election; however, the complaint stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted on the basis that the number of claimed illegal votes cast was 120 or more. Stuart v. Anderson County Election Comm'n, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 215 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 824 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), rehearing denied, 237 S.W.3d 297, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 823 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 831 (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2007).

2-9-110. Use of non-standard machines.

  1. The county election commission, with the approval of the coordinator of elections and the state election commission, may provide for the use of voting machines which do not meet the requirements of this title except under this section.
  2. Machines and procedure for such use shall provide as much protection for the purity of the ballot and against election fraud as do voting machines which otherwise meet the requirements of this title.
  3. The use of voting machines in compliance with this section and the rules of the coordinator of elections shall be as valid for all purposes in an election as if the machines had otherwise met the requirements of this title for voting machines.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-910.

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Voiding Elections.

Trial court properly refused to declare a city commission election void as none of alleged technical violations were serious enough to warrant voiding the election, and the candidate failed to prove any violation by the county of the T.C.A. § 2-9-110(a) “approval” requirement; no action regarding voting machine keys was taken with the electronic machines because by design they did not have keys, and the certification document was in full compliance with T.C.A. § 2-9-105(c). King v. Sevier County Election Comm'n, 282 S.W.3d 37, 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 443 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 31, 2008), appeal denied, King v. Sewer County Election Comm'n, — S.W.3d —, 2009 Tenn. LEXIS 170 (Tenn. Feb. 17, 2009).

2-9-111. Payment for machines.

The governing body of a city, town or county may adopt voting machines and, upon the adoption and purchase of voting machines, shall provide for payment for the machines in the way it deems for the best interest of the locality and may for that purpose issue bonds, certificates of indebtedness or other obligations which shall be a charge on the city, town or county. Such bonds, certificates or other obligations may be issued with or without interest, payable at such time or times as the authorities may determine, but shall not be issued or sold at less than par. If it is proposed that bonds be issued to finance the purchase of voting machines, such bonds may not be issued unless approved in an election by a majority of the votes cast by the voters of the city, town or county affected.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-911.

Cross-References. Revenue bond law, Title 7, chapter 34.

2-9-112. State financing of voting machines — Agreement.

When the governing body of a county requests the coordinator of elections to have the state finance the acquisition of a specified number of voting machines under §§ 2-9-1122-9-114, the governing body of the county and the coordinator of elections shall enter into an agreement to be known as a “contract, lease and option,” subject to the following requirements:

  1. The original lease term shall be for a period agreed to by the governing body of the county and the coordinator of elections. The county shall have the exclusive right and option to extend the term of the lease from year to year for periods of one (1) year at a time for an agreed period. The total lease period shall in no case exceed twenty (20) years.
  2. The rentals prescribed for the original term and for each of the full number of years for which the lease may be extended shall not be less than the amounts required in each of such years to amortize the total amount of bonds issued to defray the cost of the machines.
  3. The governing body of the county shall agree, in each effective year of the lease, to maintain the voting machines.
  4. If the governing body of the county fails or neglects to pay any of the rentals prescribed, the commissioner of finance and administration shall retain the sum necessary for such payment out of any state funds distributable to the county for any purpose. No statutory requirement that any distributable, state collected, locally shared funds shall be used exclusively for a designated purpose shall be construed as preventing the commissioner of finance and administration from taking out of such fund.
  5. The contract, lease and option may contain any other reasonable provision deemed necessary and desirable by the commissioner, the coordinator of elections or the governing body of the county.
  6. Subject to all of the above, when the governing body of a county requests the coordinator of elections to have the state finance the cost of modifying its voting machines in order to comply with the specifications of this chapter, the governing body of the county and the coordinator of elections shall enter into an agreement to be known as a “voting machine loan agreement.” The agreement shall be subject to all the terms and conditions as if the county were purchasing machines. The agreement shall provide that the state maintain a lien on such machines until such agreement is satisfied and that such agreements are subject to an annual interest rate of six percent (6%).

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-912; Acts 1981, ch. 461, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. This section may be affected by § 9-1-116, concerning entitlement to funds, absent appropriation.

2-9-113. State financing of voting machines — Purchase.

  1. The commissioner of finance and administration shall purchase or otherwise acquire voting machines to carry out § 2-9-112.
  2. The coordinator of elections, subject to the approval of the commissioner, shall determine the number of machines to be purchased for the governing body of any county and enter into agreements, as provided in § 2-9-112, with the county for the financing of the machines. The coordinator of elections in determining the number of machines to be purchased for a county shall consider the following factors:
    1. The amount of state funds available for the financing of voting machines;
    2. Whether the county is making an initial acquisition of machines or is replacing old machines;
    3. The need of the county for assistance in purchasing machines; and
    4. Such other considerations as may be pertinent to carry out the purposes of this title.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-913.

2-9-114. Funding for voting machine loan fund.

All moneys paid by the county to the coordinator of elections under the provisions of either the contract, lease and option or the “voting machine loan agreement” shall be paid into the “voting machine loan fund” and shall be used to fund subsequent loans pursuant to § 2-9-112 in the manner provided by law. Nothing in this section shall be construed to exclude or prevent future appropriations for the purpose of funding the voting machine loan fund.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-914; Acts 1999, ch. 313, § 1.

2-9-115. Use of voting machines owned by another governing body.

Nothing in this chapter shall prevent voting machines owned or controlled by one governing body from being used by another governing body when arrangements to do so are agreed upon by the affected governing bodies.

Acts 1972, ch. 740, § 1; T.C.A., § 2-915.

2-9-116. Use of voting machines by groups of citizens.

A county election commission may establish and implement a policy permitting the use of voting machines by a group of citizens; provided, that in any county having a metropolitan form of government, the decision to implement the policy is subject to the approval of the local governing body.

Acts 1993, ch. 518, §§ 21, 22; 1995, ch. 489, § 1.

2-9-117. Approval of voting machines — Reexamination of machines to ensure certification.

The state coordinator of elections and the state election commission shall approve any voting machine before a county election commission purchases such machine. Before the 2002 election cycle and at least every eight (8) years thereafter, the state coordinator of elections and the state election commission shall reexamine all voting machines to ensure such machines still meet the minimum criteria for certification. If a particular machine is not recertified by the coordinator of elections and the state election commission, the affected county election commission shall have two (2) years to purchase and implement machines that are properly certified.

Acts 2001, ch. 465, § 8.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2001, ch. 465, § 1, provided that the act shall be known and may be cited as “The 2000 Presidential Election Debacle Reform Bill of 2001.”

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Balloting System.

Dismissal of the voter's suit asserting that the legislation authorizing the use of electronic voting machines in some jurisdictions violated Tenn. Const. art. I, § 5 and Tenn. Const. art. IV, § 1, was affirmed because even if the appellate court were to concede that paperless voting could disenfranchise voters under certain circumstances, there was no indication in the complaint that voters were presently being disenfranchised by the current voting system. Mills v. Shelby County Election Comm'n, 218 S.W.3d 33, 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 589 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006), appeal denied, — S.W.3d —, 2006 Tenn. LEXIS 1184 (Tenn. Dec. 18, 2006).

2-9-118. Prohibited acts by voting systems vendor or vendor's agent — Prohibited solicitation or acceptance by election officials.

  1. An agent of a voting systems vendor or any person acting on behalf of a voting systems vendor shall not offer or attempt to offer anything of value to a state election commission member; county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons.
  2. An agent of a voting systems vendor shall not knowingly make or cause to be made any false statement or misrepresentation of the facts concerning any matter for which the voting systems vendor is responsible to a state election commission member; county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; or an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state.
  3. A state election commission member; county election commission member; secretary of state; coordinator of elections; administrator of elections; employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, shall not solicit or accept anything of value in violation of subsection (a).
  4. A voting systems vendor shall not make a loan of money to a state election commission member; a county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, or to any other person on such person's behalf.
  5. A state election commission member; county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, shall not solicit or accept a loan in violation of subsection (d).
  6. An agent of a voting systems vendor or any person acting on behalf of a voting systems vendor shall not permit a state election commission member; a county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, to use the credit or a credit card of the voting systems vendor.
  7. An agent of a voting systems vendor or any person acting on behalf of a voting systems vendor shall not pay the lodging expenses of a state election commission member; a county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons.
  8. A state election commission member; county election commission member; the secretary of state; coordinator of elections; administrator of elections; employee of the state election commission, the county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, shall not accept travel expenses, meals, or lodging paid by a voting systems vendor or agent of the voting systems vendor.
  9. An agent of a voting systems vendor or any person acting on behalf of a voting systems vendor shall not provide a gift, directly or indirectly, to a state election commission member; a county election commission member; the secretary of state; the coordinator of elections; the administrator of elections; an employee of the state election commission, county election commission, or the secretary of state; or an immediate family member of such persons, unless the gift is a novelty, such as a pin, button, pen, or similar small item or token routinely given to customers, suppliers, or potential customers or suppliers in the ordinary course of business.

Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 5.

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 250, § 9. October 1, 2019.

Chapter 10
Campaign Finances

Part 1
Financial Disclosure

2-10-101. Short title — Application — Administration — Adoption of more stringent requirements.

  1. This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Campaign Financial Disclosure Act of 1980.”
  2. This part does not apply to any candidate for public office for which the service is part time and for which the compensation is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) per month; provided, that this exemption shall not be applicable to any such candidate for a public office as a chief administrative officer or to any such candidate whose expenditures exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).
  3. Any charter provisions of municipalities regarding campaign financial disclosures of candidates for public office apply to candidates for public office, except to the extent that such provisions are in conflict with this part.
  4. The registry of election finance shall have the jurisdiction to administer and enforce the provisions of this part concerning campaign financial disclosure.
  5. Nothing in this part shall be construed as prohibiting the largest municipality located within any county having a population of not less than three hundred thirty-five thousand (335,000) nor more than three hundred thirty-six thousand (336,000), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, from enacting, by ordinance or charter amendment, more stringent financial disclosures of candidates for municipal local public office than those requirements imposed by this part. A municipality adopting more stringent requirements pursuant to this chapter shall compensate the county for any additional expenses incurred by the county election commission as a result of adopting more stringent requirements.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 2; 1982, ch. 689, § 11; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 1, 7; 1989, ch. 585, § 9; 1997, ch. 558, § 23; 2000, ch. 782, § 1; 2013, ch. 231, § 10.

Compiler's Notes. For tables of population of Tennessee municipalities, and for U.S. decennial populations of Tennessee counties, see Volume 13 and its supplement.

Cross-References. Disclosure statements of conflict of interests, title 8, ch. 50, part 5.

Lobbyist registration and disclosure, title 3, ch. 6.

Registry of election finance, title 2, ch. 10, part 2.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4; 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 24.

Law Reviews.

Constitutional Law — Bemis Pentecostal Church v. State: The Validity of Tennessee's Campaign Disclosure Act, 18 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 324 (1989).

First Amendment and “Foreign-Controlled” U.S. Corporations: Why Congress Ought to Affirm Domestic Subsidiaries’ Corporate Political-Speech Rights (Scott L. Friedman), 46 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 613 (2013).

Mistaken Identity: Unveiling the Property Characteristics of Political Money, 53 Vand. L. Rev. 1235 (2000).

Professional Responsibilities of Lobbyists (William R. Bruce), 23 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 547 (1993).

Attorney General Opinions. Anonymous campaign contributions, OAG 97-065 (5/12/97).

Candidate's acceptance of contributions for primary election that may not occur, OAG 97-137 (10/06/97).

Surplus campaign funds of deceased candidate for state or local office, OAG 99-118 (5/14/99).

Neither the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act or the Campaign Contribution Limits Act contains any time limitation on when a multicandidate political campaign committee must support or oppose a second candidate or measure, OAG 03-112 (9/9/03).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Constitutionality.

The Campaign Financial Disclosure Act, T.C.A. § 2-10-101 et seq., as drafted and construed does not violate the free speech clause of the first amendment. Bemis Pentecostal Church v. State, 731 S.W.2d 897, 1987 Tenn. LEXIS 1064 (Tenn. 1987), appeal dismissed, Bemis Pentecostal Church v. Tennessee, 485 U.S. 930, 108 S. Ct. 1102, 99 L. Ed. 2d 264, 1988 U.S. LEXIS 1073 (1988).

District court erred in abstaining from exercising its jurisdiction in case alleging that Tennessee's Campaign Financial Disclosure Act unconstitutionally burdened rights of free speech and association in light of alleged chilling effects of Act.  Jones v. Coleman, 848 F.3d 744,  2017 FED App. 32P, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2632 (6th Cir. Feb. 15, 2017).

Collateral References.

Constitutionality of Corrupt Practices Acts. 69 A.L.R. 377.

State regulation of the giving or making of political contributions or expenditures by private individuals. 94 A.L.R.3d 944.

2-10-102. Chapter definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

  1. “Affiliated political campaign committees” means political campaign committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by any corporation, labor organization, or any other person, including any parent, subsidiary, branch, division, department, or local unit of such corporation, labor organization, or any other person, or by any group of such persons;
    1. All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single corporation and/or its subsidiaries shall be affiliated political campaign committees;
    2. All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single national or international union and/or its local unions or other subordinate organizations shall be affiliated political campaign committees;
    3. All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by an organization of national or international unions and/or all its state and the local central bodies shall be affiliated political campaign committees, but such committees shall not be affiliated with the political campaign committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by any union that is a member of the organization;
    4. All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a membership organization, other than political party committees, including trade or professional associations and/or related state and local entities of that organization or group shall be affiliated political campaign committees;
    5. All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by the same person or group of persons shall be affiliated political campaign committees;
    6. Owners, officers, employees, members or other individuals associated with any corporation, labor organization, membership organization, or any other person or group of persons that has established, financed, maintained or controlled a political campaign committee shall not be considered affiliated with such political campaign committee;
  2. “Attorney general and reporter” means the attorney general and reporter of Tennessee;
  3. “Candidate” means an individual who has made a formal announcement of candidacy or who is qualified under the law of this state to seek nomination for election or elections to public office, or has received contributions or made expenditures except for incidental expenditures to determine if one shall be a candidate, or has given consent for a campaign committee to receive contributions or make expenditures with a view to bringing about the individual's nomination for election or election to state public office;
  4. “Contribution” means any advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, loan guaranty, personal funds of a candidate, payment, digital currency, gift, or subscription of money or like thing of value, and any contract, agreement, promise or other obligation, whether or not legally enforceable, made for the purpose of influencing a measure or nomination for election or the election of any person for public office or for the purpose of defraying any expenses of an officeholder incurred in connection with the performance of the officeholder's duties, responsibilities, or constituent services. “Contribution” shall not be construed to include the following:
    1. Services, including expenses provided without compensation by a candidate or individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time, on behalf of a candidate or campaign committee;
    2. Any news story, commentary or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned wholly or in part, or controlled by any political party, political committee or candidate;
    3. Nonpartisan activity designed to encourage individuals to register to vote or to vote;
    4. Any written, oral or electronically transmitted communication by any membership organization or corporation to its members or stockholders, if such membership organization or corporation is not organized primarily for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election, or election, of any person to public office;
    5. The use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food and beverages not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100), voluntarily provided on an individual's residential premises for candidate related activities; or
    6. For a county executive committee that has annual receipts and expenditures of less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), receipts and expenditures, including a reasonable amount for rent, by a state or county executive committee or primary board when performing the duties imposed upon them by law; provided, that such receipts and expenditures are segregated from and maintained in a fund separate and apart from any funds used by the party as a political campaign committee, it being the legislative intent that if no separate fund is maintained, all receipts and expenditures of the committee or board shall be subject to the disclosure provisions of this part;
  5. “Election” means any general, special or primary election or run-off election, held to approve or disapprove a measure or nominate or elect a candidate for public office;
    1. “Expenditure” means a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing a measure or the nomination for election or election of any person to public office;
    2. “Expenditure” also includes the use of campaign funds by an officeholder for the furtherance of the office of the officeholder;
  6. “File” or “filed” means the date actually deposited with or received by the appropriate office or the date of the postmark if postmarked and sent by registered or certified mail of the United States postal service;
  7. “Measure” means any proposal submitted to the people of the entire state, or any political subdivision of the state, for their approval or rejection at an election, including any proposed law, act or part of an act of the general assembly, or revision of or amendment to the constitution;
  8. “Multicandidate political campaign committee” means a political campaign committee to support or oppose two (2) or more candidates for public office or two (2) or more measures;
    1. “Person” means an individual, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization or any other organization or group of persons;
    2. Any limited liability company or limited liability partnership created under title 48 shall be considered a person for the purpose of this subdivision (10) and subdivision (1);
  9. “Personal funds” means:
    1. Any assets which the candidate had legal right of access to or control over at the time the candidate became a candidate and with respect to which the candidate had either:
      1. Legal and rightful title; or
      2. An equitable interest;
    2. Salary and other earned income from bona fide employment;
    3. Dividends and proceeds from the sale of the candidate's stocks or other investments;
    4. Bequests to the candidate; income from trusts established before candidacy;
    5. Income from trusts established by bequest after candidacy of which the candidate is the beneficiary;
    6. Gifts of a personal nature which had been customarily received prior to candidacy; and
    7. That portion of assets jointly owned with the candidate's spouse which is the candidate's share under the instruments of conveyance or ownership. If no specific share is indicated by such instrument, the value of one-half of the property used shall be considered as personal funds;
  10. “Political campaign committee” means:
    1. Any corporation or any other organization making expenditures, except as provided in subdivision (4), to support or oppose a measure; or
    2. Any committee, club, corporation, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions or makes expenditures to support or oppose any candidate for public office or measure during a calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000);
  11. “Public office” means any state public office or local public office filled by the voters;
    1. “Local public office” means any state, county, municipal, school or other district or precinct office or position, including general sessions and juvenile court judges, that is filled by the voters, with the exception that “local public office” does not include any state public office as defined in subdivision (13)(B); and
    2. “State public office” means the offices of governor, member of the general assembly, delegate to a Tennessee constitutional convention, trial judge, chancellor, district attorney general, district public defender, judge of the court of criminal appeals, judge of the court of appeals and supreme court judge; and
  12. “Secretary of state” means the secretary of state or the secretary of state's designee.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 3; 1982, ch. 658, §§ 1-3; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 5, 7; 1990, ch. 1048, §§ 1-3; 1991, ch. 519, §§ 1, 2; 1992, ch. 988, § 8; 1995, ch. 305, § 59; 1995, ch. 531, §§ 2, 3; 1996, ch. 1005, § 1; 2000, ch. 756, § 12; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 5; 2011, ch. 389, § 1; 2012, ch. 789, §§ 1, 2; 2015, ch. 379, § 1; 2017, ch. 347, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2015 amendment added “digital currency,”  in (4).

The 2017 amendment, in the definition of  “political campaign committee”, deleted former (A) which read: “(A)  A combination of two (2) or more individuals, including any political party governing body, whether state or local, making expenditures, to support or oppose any candidate for public office or measure, but does not include a voter registration program;”; redesignated former (B) and (C) as present (A) and (B); and substituted “during a calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000)” for “during a calendar quarter in an aggregate amount exceeeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250)” at the end of present (B).

Effective Dates. Acts 2015, ch. 379, § 3. April 30, 2015.

Acts 2017, ch. 347, § 2. May 9, 2017.

Cross-References. Certified mail in lieu of registered mail, § 1-3-111.

Textbooks. Gibson's Suits in Chancery (7th ed., Inman), § 567.

Tennessee Jurisprudence, 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 24.

Law Reviews.

Curtailing the Cudgel of “Coordination” by Curing Confusion: How States Can Fix What the Feds Got Wrong on Campaign Finance, 48 U. Mem. L. Rev. 463 (2017).

Attorney General Opinions. Application of campaign contribution limits to donations to constituent service accounts, OAG 95-098 (9/1/95).

Constituent services account, OAG 96-009 (1/24/96).

Independent election expenditures, OAG 96-90 (7/24/96).

Application of campaign finance laws to contributions to officeholder's legal defense fund, OAG 97-146 (10/23/97).

Contribution of candidate's personal funds during legislative session, OAG 98-061 (3/9/98), OAG 98-062 (3/9/98).

Calculation of annual receipts and expenditures of county executive committee, OAG 98-0121 (7/10/98).

Applicability of exemption from definition of “contribution” under subdivision (3)(F), OAG 98-0121 (7/10/98).

Disclosure of receipts by state political parties with multicandidate campaign committees, OAG 98-0121 (7/10/98).

Attribution and disclosure of post-election contribution to successful debt-free candidate, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Application of campaign finance legislation to limited liability companies, OAG 99-086 (4/8/99).

Surplus campaign funds of deceased candidate for state or local office, OAG 99-118 (5/14/99).

An organization may be a multicandidate political campaign committee, even if it has only received one contribution, OAG 03-112 (9/9/03).

A proposition on the ballot directing the recall of an elected official would qualify as a “measure” within the meaning of subdivision (5) of this section; thus a political campaign committee for a local election to approve or disapprove a measure is required to file a report of all contributions received and all expenditures made by or on behalf of the committee, OAG 04-135 (8/23/04).

Filing of disclosure statements by corporations for independent expenditures.  OAG 10-39, 2010 Tenn. AG LEXIS 39 (3/30/10).

Corporate contributions to political action committees under Acts 2010, ch. 1095.OAG 11-7, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 7 (1/12/11).

Application of campaign finance laws to limited liability companies.  OAG 11-83, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 85 (12/29/11).

State law does not prohibit elected state officials from using state property, including the Executive Residence, for campaign-related activities.  Tennessee’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Act would require the disclosure of expenditures incurred for such campaign-related activities on state property if they constitute either a “contribution” or an “expenditure” as defined under the Act. To the extent that the Governor’s non-personal schedule, including events at the Executive Residence, meets the definition of “public record” as set forth in T.C.A. § 10-7503(a)(1)(A), then it is subject to disclosure under Tennessee’s Public Records Act, unless a state law provides otherwise. OAG 16-48, 2016 Tenn. AG LEXIS 47 (12/22/2016).

NOTES TO DECISIONS

1. Church Activities.

The financing of direct participation in a campaign, through activities in which churches would not otherwise be engaged but for an impending election, triggers this chapter. Bemis Pentecostal Church v. State, 731 S.W.2d 897, 1987 Tenn. LEXIS 1064 (Tenn. 1987), appeal dismissed, Bemis Pentecostal Church v. Tennessee, 485 U.S. 930, 108 S. Ct. 1102, 99 L. Ed. 2d 264, 1988 U.S. LEXIS 1073 (1988).

Ongoing or standing political campaign committees would be encompassed under either T.C.A. § 2-10-102(8) or (10)(C) (now (12)(B)), but the predominantly religious activities are not within the scope of the chapter and would not result in churches being considered political campaign committees for any purpose under the chapter. Bemis Pentecostal Church v. State, 731 S.W.2d 897, 1987 Tenn. LEXIS 1064 (Tenn. 1987), appeal dismissed, Bemis Pentecostal Church v. Tennessee, 485 U.S. 930, 108 S. Ct. 1102, 99 L. Ed. 2d 264, 1988 U.S. LEXIS 1073 (1988).

Regular and continuing programs of broadcasting by churches of their religious services on radio or television or of publishing and distributing church newsletters are not and cannot be considered campaign contributions or expenditures, regardless of whether they advocate a particular election result or not in the course of such activities, as these activities are protected by the first amendment and are expressly excluded under T.C.A. § 2-10-102(3)(B) (now (4)(B)). Bemis Pentecostal Church v. State, 731 S.W.2d 897, 1987 Tenn. LEXIS 1064 (Tenn. 1987), appeal dismissed, Bemis Pentecostal Church v. Tennessee, 485 U.S. 930, 108 S. Ct. 1102, 99 L. Ed. 2d 264, 1988 U.S. LEXIS 1073 (1988).

2-10-103. Duties of county election commissions.

  1. It is the duty of each county election commission to:
    1. Accept and file any information filed pursuant to the requirements of this part and information voluntarily supplied that exceeds the requirements of this part;
    2. Make statements and other information filed with it available for public inspection and copying during regular office hours at reasonable expense;
    3. Preserve such statements and other information for a period of five (5) years from date of receipt; and
    4. Notify all candidates for local public office in a local election of the requirements for filing any statement required by this part seven (7) days before any deadline provided for herein.
  2. It is the duty of the state election commission to furnish the name and address of any candidate for statewide public office and the language of any measure submitted to the people of the entire state to the secretary of state and the registry of election finance.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 4; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 2, 7; 1989, ch. 585, § 10.

Compiler's Notes. Former subsection (d) of this section was transferred in 1985 to § 2-10-109(a)(1).

2-10-104. Affirmation of statements before witness.

All statements required by this part shall be signed by the person filing such statement in the presence of one (1) witness who shall sign such statements as a witness. The treasurer shall not be authorized to sign as a witness. Such person shall sign the statements prior to the filing of the statements. Statements required by this part do not have to be sworn to or affirmed by a notary.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 5; 2004, ch. 594, § 1.

Cross-References. Notaries public, § 8-16-101 et seq.

Attorney General Opinions. Administration of oaths, OAG 94-80 (7/11/94).

2-10-105. Filing of contribution, loan and expenditure statements — Deadlines — Certification of treasurers and other officers — Retention of records — Additional reporting requirements.

  1. Each candidate for state public office and political campaign committee in a state election shall file with the registry of election finance a statement of all contributions received and all expenditures made by or on behalf of such candidate or such committee. The statement of each candidate for state public office shall include the date of the receipt of each contribution, and the statement of a political campaign committee in a state election shall include the date of each expenditure that is a contribution to a candidate in any election.
  2. Each candidate for local public office and political campaign committee for a local election shall file with each county election commission of the county where the election is held a statement of all contributions received and all expenditures made by or on behalf of such candidate or such committee. The statement of each candidate for local public office shall include the date of the receipt of each contribution, and the statement of a political campaign committee for a local election shall include the date of each expenditure that is a contribution to a candidate in any election.
    1. The statements required by subsections (a) and (b) of each candidate, each single candidate political campaign committee, single measure political campaign or multicandidate political campaign committee shall be filed quarterly during an election year, within ten (10) days following the conclusion of the quarterly reports ending March 31, June 30, September 30 and January 15. Such candidate and political campaign committees shall also be required to file a pre-primary statement and pre-general election statement. The pre-primary statement shall cover the period from the last day included in the July quarterly statement through the tenth day before the primary election. Such pre-primary statement is due seven (7) days before the primary election. The pre-general election statement shall cover the period from the last day included in the October quarterly statement through the tenth day before the general election. Such pre-general election statement is due seven (7) days before the general election.
    2. Statements for any runoff election, from the last day included in any prior report through the tenth day before any such election shall be filed not later than seven (7) days before the election.
    3. Any candidate or political campaign committee filing a statement pursuant to subsection (e) before January 16 of the year in which the candidate or committee expects to be involved in an election shall file reports with the registry of election finance or the county election commission, whichever is required by subsections (a) and (b), by January 31 and July 15 immediately succeeding the filing, and semi-annually thereafter until the year of the election. If January 31 or July 15 falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, § 1-3-102 shall apply. The ending date of the January 31 reporting period is January 15. The ending date of the July 15 reporting period is June 30. A semiannual report is not required to be made if the reporting date is within sixty (60) days of a report otherwise required by this part.
    4. Each statement required by subsections (a) and (b) shall include transactions occurring since the preceding statement.
  3. Each multicandidate political campaign committee shall file reports according to subsection (c)(1). Each report shall include transactions occurring since the preceding report. Such reports shall be made available on the Internet as soon as practicable once such multicandidate political campaign committee has filed such information and the registry has reviewed such statements for accuracy and timeliness. If a multicandidate political campaign committee has not timely filed a quarterly report, then the registry shall post on the Internet that the multicandidate political campaign committee is delinquent.
    1. Each candidate and each political campaign committee shall certify the name and address of the candidate's or committee's political treasurer to the registry of election finance or the county election commission, where appropriate, before the candidate or committee may receive a contribution or make an expenditure in a state or local election. A statement certifying a candidate's treasurer must contain the office the candidate is seeking and the year of the election. A state public officeholder shall also certify the name and address of such officeholder's political treasurer to the registry of election finance before the officeholder or the officeholder's political committee may accept a contribution to defray the expenses incurred in connection with the performance of the officeholder's duties or responsibilities, and a local officeholder shall so certify the name and address of such officeholder's treasurer to the appropriate county election commission. A candidate may serve as that candidate's own political treasurer. A candidate or political campaign committee shall notify the registry of election finance or county election commission of any changes in the office of its political treasurer. Any such statements filed pursuant to this part shall be cosigned by the candidate, if such candidate appoints a political treasurer other than the candidate.
    2. In addition to the requirements in subdivision (e)(1), a multicandidate political campaign committee shall also certify the name and address of all officers of such committee to the registry of election finance. A multicandidate political campaign committee is required to have at least one (1) officer, not including the treasurer of such committee.
  4. All records used by the candidate or political campaign committee to complete a statement required by this part shall be retained by the candidate or political campaign committee for at least two (2) years after the date of the election to which the records refer or the date of the statement, whichever is later. After the two-year period, the candidate or political campaign committee is authorized to destroy such records, absent any pending investigation by the registry of election finance or any other law enforcement agency, or absent any administrative or court proceeding. Once an investigation is closed by the registry of election finance, records may be destroyed upon a petition for approval to the registry of election finance.
  5. Separate reporting shall be required for both primary elections and general elections. Cumulative reporting for both primary and general elections for the same office in the same year is expressly prohibited. An appointment of a political treasurer pursuant to subsection (e) may be cumulative, and one (1) such appointment shall be sufficient for both a primary and general election for the same office in the same year. A successful primary candidate shall not be required to certify a political treasurer for the general election, if the candidate had previously certified such political treasurer prior to the primary election.
    1. During the period beginning at twelve o'clock (12:00) midnight of the tenth day prior to a primary, general, runoff or special election or a referendum and extending through twelve o'clock (12:00) midnight of such election or referendum day, each candidate or political campaign committee shall, by telegram, facsimile machine, hand delivery or overnight mail delivery, file a report with the registry of election finance or the county election commission, whichever is required by subsections (a) and (b), of:
      1. The full name and address of each person from whom the candidate or committee has received and accepted a contribution, loan or transfer of funds during such period and the date of the receipt of each contribution in excess of the following amounts: a committee participating in the election of a candidate for any state public office, five thousand dollars ($5,000); or, a committee participating in the election of a candidate for any local public office, two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500). If the committee is participating in the election of candidates for offices with different reporting amounts, the amount shall be the lowest for any candidate in whose election the committee is participating or in which any committee is participating to which it makes or from which it receives a transfer of funds; and
      2. Such report shall include the amount and date of each such contribution or loan reported, and a brief description and valuation of each in-kind contribution. If a loan is reported, the report shall contain the name and address of the lender, of the recipient of the proceeds of the loan, and of any person who makes any type of security agreement binding such person or such person's property, directly or indirectly, for the repayment of all or any part of the loan.
    2. Each report required by subdivision (h)(1) shall be filed by the end of the next business day following the day on which the contribution to be reported is received.
    3. The registry shall develop appropriate forms for the report required by subdivision (h)(1) and make such forms available to the candidates and the county election commissions.
  6. Any state or local political party or caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly that controls or operates one (1) or more political campaign committees shall report all receipts and disbursements by the party in the same manner and at the same time that it reports contributions and expenditures by the party's political campaign committee.
  7. Reports filed under this section shall not be cumulative, except as provided in subsection (g) regarding appointment of a political treasurer. Each report shall reflect the total for its own reporting period.
  8. “Date of the receipt”, as used in this section, means the date when the contribution was received by the candidate, candidate's committee, or treasurer.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 6; 1981, ch. 136, § 1; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 3, 7; 1989, ch. 585, §§ 11-13; 1990, ch. 1078, §§ 1, 2; 1991, ch. 519, §§ 3, 4; 1995, ch. 531, §§ 9, 11-13; 1996, ch. 1005, § 2; 1997, ch. 410, §§ 1, 2; 1998, ch. 650, §§ 1-3; 2000, ch. 925, § 1; 2004, ch. 915, § 2; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 2; 2010, ch. 685, § 1; 2012, ch. 693, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2004, ch. 915, § 1 provided that the act is and may be cited as the “Public Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2004”.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4.

Law Reviews.

Curtailing the Cudgel of “Coordination” by Curing Confusion: How States Can Fix What the Feds Got Wrong on Campaign Finance, 48 U. Mem. L. Rev. 463 (2017).

Attorney General Opinions. Independent election expenditures, OAG 96-90 (7/24/96).

Disclosure of receipts by state political parties with multicandidate campaign committees, OAG 98-0121 (7/10/98).

Requirement of new certification of political treasurer, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Attribution and disclosure of post-election contribution to successful debt-free candidate, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Application of campaign finance legislation to limited liability companies, OAG 99-086 (4/8/99).

A group or organization becomes a multicandidate political campaign committee when it appoints or certifies a political treasurer to the Registry of Election Finance pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, OAG 03-112 (9/9/03).

Filing of disclosure statements by corporations for independent expenditures.  OAG 10-39, 2010 Tenn. AG LEXIS 39 (3/30/10).

Application of campaign finance laws to limited liability companies.  OAG 11-83, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 85 (12/29/11).

State law does not prohibit elected state officials from using state property, including the Executive Residence, for campaign-related activities. Tennessee’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Act would require the disclosure of expenditures incurred for such campaign-related activities on state property if they constitute either a “contribution” or an “expenditure” as defined under the Act. To the extent that the Governor’s non-personal schedule, including events at the Executive Residence, meets the definition of “public record” as set forth in T.C.A. § 10-7503(a)(1)(A), then it is subject to disclosure under Tennessee’s Public Records Act, unless a state law provides otherwise. OAG 16-48, 2016 Tenn. AG LEXIS 47 (12/22/2016).

The disclaimer requirements of T.C.A. § 2-19-120 apply when a person finances an election-related communication on a social media platform.  T.C.A.. § 2-10-105 is also applicable to political communications on social media platforms. OAG 18-37, 2018 Tenn. AG LEXIS 36 (8/14/2018).

2-10-106. Supplemental semiannual statements of contributions and expenditures — Funds maintained in segregated campaign accounts.

  1. If the final statement of a candidate shows an unexpended balance of contributions, continuing debts and obligations, or an expenditure deficit, the campaign treasurer shall file with the registry of election finance or the county election commission, whichever is required by § 2-10-105(a) and (b), a supplemental semiannual statement of contributions and expenditures. Beginning after filing the first quarterly report due after an election, subsequent supplemental statements shall be filed on a semiannual basis by candidates until the account shows no unexpended balance, continuing debts and obligations, expenditures, or deficit. A candidate may close out a campaign account by transferring any remaining funds to any campaign fund, subject to the requirements of this part and commence semiannual filing as provided by this part.
  2. Funds maintained in a separate segregated campaign account are not deemed to be the personal property of any candidate or other individual. Such funds are not subject to garnishment or any type of execution to satisfy the debts or obligations of any individual which are not campaign debts.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 7; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 7, 8; 1989, ch. 585, § 14; 1992, ch. 932, § 4; 1992, ch. 978, § 7; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 3.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4.

Attorney General Opinions. Attribution and disclosure of post-election contribution to successful debt-free candidate, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Surplus campaign funds of deceased candidate for state or local office, OAG 99-118 (5/14/99).

Candidate cannot transfer a negative balance from one campaign account and start a subsequent election account with a negative balance, OAG 03-089 (7/15/03).

Filing of disclosure statements by corporations for independent expenditures.  OAG 10-39, 2010 Tenn. AG LEXIS 39 (3/30/10).

2-10-107. Content of statements — Closing out accounts — Reporting of in-kind contributions.

  1. A statement filed under § 2-10-105 or § 2-10-106 shall consist of either:
    1. A statement that neither the contributions received nor the expenditures made during the period for which the statement is submitted exceeded one thousand dollars ($1,000). Any statement filed pursuant to § 2-10-106 shall indicate whether an unexpended balance of contributions, continuing debts and obligations or an expenditure deficit exists; or
        1. A statement setting forth, under contributions, a list of all the contributions received, including the full name, complete address, occupation, and employer of each person who contributed a total amount of more than one hundred dollars ($100) during the period for which the statement is submitted, and the amount contributed by that person;
        2. When a candidate or the treasurer of a political campaign committee shows that best efforts have been used to obtain, maintain and submit the complete address, occupation, and employer required for contributors, the statement shall be considered in compliance with this subdivision (a)(2)(A). “Best efforts” includes notifying the contributor by first class mail that further information concerning such contributor is required under state law, or by including on a written solicitation for contributions a clear request for the contributor's name, address, occupation and employer and by accurately stating that such information is required under state law for all persons contributing more than one hundred dollars ($100). Further definitions and guidelines, if any, for what is also considered “best efforts” shall be set by rule promulgated pursuant to § 4-55-103(1);
        3. The statement of each candidate shall include the date of the receipt of each contribution and the statement of a political campaign committee shall include the date of each expenditure that is a contribution to a candidate. “Date of the receipt”, as used in this subdivision (a)(2)(A)(iii), means the date when the contribution was received by the candidate, candidate's committee, or treasurer. The statement shall list as a single item the total amount of contributions of one hundred dollars ($100) or less; and
      1. A statement setting forth, under expenditures, a list of all expenditures made, including the full name and address of each person to whom a total amount of more than one hundred dollars ($100) was paid during the period for which the statement is submitted, the total amount paid to that person, and the purpose of the payment which shall clearly identify that it is an allowable expenditure under § 2-10-114. The words “reimbursement”, “credit card purchase”, “other” and “campaign expense” shall not be considered acceptable descriptions for “purpose”. Any purchase made with a credit card shall also be disclosed as a payment to the vendor providing the item or service. Credit card payments to separate vendors shall be disclosed as separate expenditures. The statement shall list the total amount of expenditures of one hundred dollars ($100) or less each, by category, without showing the exact amount of or vouching for each such expenditure.
  2. When any candidate or political campaign committee desires to close out a campaign account, it may file a statement to such effect at any time; provided, that the statement shall on its face show no unexpended balance, continuing debts or obligations or deficit.
    1. When filing a statement under § 2-10-105 or § 2-10-106, a contribution, as defined in § 2-10-102, for which no monetary consideration is paid or promised, referred to as an in-kind contribution in this part, shall be listed separately in the disclosure statement and excluded from the lists of contributions and expenditures. The in-kind contribution list shall include:
      1. In-kind contributions of a value of one hundred dollars ($100) or less may be listed as a single item; and
        1. In-kind contributions of a value of more than one hundred dollars ($100) during the period for which the statement is submitted, and for each such contribution, the category of the contribution, the name, address, occupation and employer of each person who contributed it.
        2. When a candidate or the treasurer of a political campaign committee shows that best efforts have been used to obtain, maintain and submit the complete address, occupation, and employer required for contributors, the statement shall be considered in compliance with this subdivision (c)(1)(B). “Best efforts” includes notifying the contributor by first class mail that further information concerning such contributor is required under state law, or by including on a written solicitation for contributions a clear request for the contributor's name, address, occupation and employer and by accurately stating such information is required under state law for all persons contributing more than one hundred dollars ($100). Further definitions and guidelines, if any, for what is also considered “best efforts” shall be set by rule promulgated pursuant to § 4-55-103(1).
        3. The statement of each candidate shall include the date of the receipt of each in-kind contribution and the statement of a political campaign committee shall include the date of each expenditure that is an in-kind contribution to a candidate.
    2. Within ninety (90) days of February 15, 2006, by rule promulgated in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, the registry of election finance shall enumerate a nonexclusive listing of examples of the various categories of contributions that constitute “in-kind contributions” requiring disclosure. Upon promulgating such rule, the registry shall provide a copy of such rule to each member of the general assembly and each qualified candidate for state office. Any changes or revisions to the rules shall be promulgated pursuant to § 4-55-103(1).
  3. An in-kind contribution is deemed to be made and shall be reportable in the period when such contribution is made or performed and not when the cost is billed or paid. The actual cost of the in-kind contribution, if known, shall be reported in the period such contribution is made or performed. If the actual cost of the in-kind contribution is not known, an estimate of the cost shall be reported in the period such contribution is made or performed, and the report shall indicate that the amount reported is estimated. If the actual cost, as indicated on the bill, is different from the amount reported, such amount shall be amended or adjusted on a later report covering the period in which payment is made.
  4. A statement filed under § 2-10-105 or § 2-10-106 shall also list any unexpended balance, any deficit and any continuing financial obligations of the candidate, campaign or committee.
  5. Payments to a person as reimbursement for expenditures made by the person on behalf of the candidate or committee shall be disclosed as payments to the vendor who provided the item or service to the candidate or committee, not the person who is reimbursed.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 8; 1984, ch. 683, § 6; 1986, ch. 780, § 2; 1989, ch. 585, §§ 15, 33; 1990, ch. 943, § 3; 1991, ch. 519, §§ 5, 6; 1995, ch. 531, §§ 14, 15; 1997, ch. 410, §§ 3, 4; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 4; 2009, ch. 556, §§ 2-4.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 17 provided that the amendment by that act shall only apply to contributions and expenditures made after January 1, 1996.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Bureau of ethics and campaign finance, title 4, ch. 55.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4.

Law Reviews.

Ethical Requirements for Judicial Candidates (Joe G. Riley), 26 No. 3, Tenn. B.J. 12 (1990).

Attorney General Opinions. Independent election expenditures, OAG 96-90 (7/24/96).

Application of campaign finance legislation to limited liability companies, OAG 99-086 (4/8/99).

2-10-108. Sworn complaint on statements of candidates — Penalty for false complaint.

  1. A registered voter of Tennessee may file a sworn complaint alleging that a statement filed regarding an election for which that voter was qualified to vote does not conform to law or to the truth or that a person has failed to file a statement required by law.
  2. All sworn complaints on a statement of a candidate for state public office or a political campaign committee for such candidate must be filed in the office of the registry of election finance.
  3. All sworn complaints on a statement of a candidate for local public office or a political campaign committee for such candidate must be filed in the office of the district attorney general who represents the judicial district in which the voter resides.
  4. Any person who knowingly and willfully files a sworn complaint which is false or for the purpose of harassment is subject to the civil penalties enacted into law by Acts 1989, ch. 585, and is liable for reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the candidate who was the subject of such complaint.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 9; 1989, ch. 585, § 16; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1990, ch. 943, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. For codification of Acts 1989, ch. 585, referred to in this section, see the Session Law Disposition Tables in Volume 13.

Acts 1990, ch. 943, § 2(a) deleted the classification of the prohibited activity in this section as a Class C misdemeanor as classified by Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 113.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4; 10 Tenn. Juris., Elections, § 24.

Attorney General Opinions. The Registry of Election Finance is not prohibited from considering a sworn statement regarding a legislator's compliance with disclosure and other statutory requirements even if it is not filed by a qualified voter of that legislator's district, OAG 05-022 (3/10/05).

A sworn complaint may be filed with the Registry of Election Finance in relation to a possible violation of the conflict of interest disclosure rules, T.C.A. §§ 8-50-501 et seq., OAG 05-022 (3/10/05).

An individual is not required to be a registered voter from a legislator's district in order to file a complaint with the Registry of Election Finance concerning that legislator's conduct, OAG 05-023 (3/10/05).

2-10-109. Duties of attorney general and reporter.

  1. It is the duty of the attorney general and reporter to:
    1. Advise county election commissions, primary boards and administrators of elections of their duties and responsibilities required by this part;
    2. Provide opinions upon the requirements of this part to the members of the general assembly, district attorneys general, the state and county election commissions, and such other officials who are charged with the administration of this law; and
    3. Represent the registry of election finance in any action or lawsuit in any court of this state.
  2. It is the duty of each district attorney general to:
    1. Investigate any sworn complaint filed in accordance with § 2-10-108(c); and
    2. Seek injunctions from the chancery courts of this state to enforce this part against any campaign committee or candidate about whom a sworn complaint has been filed, if such action is justified.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, §§ 4, 10; 1989, ch. 585, §§ 17, 18.

Compiler's Notes. Subdivision (a)(1) of this section was transferred in 1985 from § 2-10-103(d).

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4.

2-10-110. Penalties.

  1. The registry of election finance may impose a civil penalty for a violation of this part as provided in this section.
    1. “Class 1 offense” means the late filing of any report or statement required by this part. A Class 1 offense shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per day up to a maximum of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750).
      1. For local public offices, the county administrator of elections shall have personally served upon, or send by return receipt requested mail, an assessment letter to any candidate or committee upon the administrator's discovery that a due report has not been filed. The administrator shall forward a copy of such notice to the registry of election finance. For state public offices, the registry of election finance shall have personally served upon, or send by return receipt requested mail, an assessment letter to any candidate or committee upon the registry or its appropriate staff discovering that a due report has not been filed. A civil penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per day shall begin to accrue five (5) days after personal service or receipt of the letter and shall continue to accrue until the report is filed or for thirty (30) days, whichever occurs first; provided, that no civil penalty shall be imposed by the registry of election finance if a candidate fails to list a contribution on a filed report but corrects the omission to the registry's satisfaction within ten (10) business days from the date on which the candidate is served process by, or receives notice from, the registry. This ten-day period shall not serve to stay the running of any time period or reduce any penalty established by this section. A candidate shall only be allowed to correct up to two (2) omissions in one (1) calendar year and the total of the omissions shall not exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000). Any omission corrected by the candidate prior to the registry's discovery of the omission shall not count against the limitation on correction of omissions.
      2. For any Class 1 offense, the registry of election finance, through its appropriate staff, shall send an assessment letter to a candidate or committee in a form sufficient to advise the candidate or committee of the factual basis of the violation, the maximum penalty and the date a response to the letter must be filed. If a disclosure report is returned to a candidate or committee for correction, a copy of the original shall be retained on file until the corrected report is returned to the registry of election finance. If the original filing was in compliance with the intent of the law and minor errors are corrected within the date set for a response, no penalty shall be assessed.
      3. To request a waiver, reduction, or to in any way contest a Class 1 penalty imposed by the registry of election finance, a candidate for a state or local public office shall file a petition with the registry of election finance. Such petition may be considered as a contested case proceeding under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.
    2. “Class 2 offense” means failing to file a report required by this part within thirty-five (35) days after service of process or receipt of notice by registered or certified mail of an assessment or any other violation of the requirements of this part. A Class 2 offense is punishable by a maximum civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or fifteen percent (15%) of the amount in controversy, if fifteen percent (15%) of the amount in controversy is greater than ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
      1. For state and local public offices, the registry of election finance may impose a civil penalty for any Class 2 offense; provided, that no penalty shall be imposed by the registry of election finance if a candidate fails to list a contribution on a filed report but corrects the omission to the registry's satisfaction within ten (10) business days from the date on which the candidate is served process by, or receives notice from, the registry. This ten-day period shall not serve to stay the running of any time period established by this section. A candidate shall only be allowed to correct up to two (2) omissions in one (1) calendar year and the total of the omissions shall not exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000). Any omission corrected by the candidate prior to the registry's discovery of the omission shall not count against the limitation on correction of omissions.
      2. To request a waiver, reduction, or to in any way contest a Class 2 penalty imposed by the registry of election finance, a candidate for a state or local public office shall file a petition with the registry of election finance. Such petition may be considered as a contested case proceeding under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.
      3. “Amount in controversy” means, as appropriate to the case, the greater of the total expenditures or total contributions, either of which or both of which are shown on a late report subsequently filed, or the amount of an expenditure or contribution that was not reported or was incorrectly reported.
  2. Penalties imposed under this part shall be deposited into the state general fund.
    1. The registry of election finance shall maintain a register of all civil penalties imposed under this part and remaining unpaid.
    2. If a civil penalty lawfully assessed and any lawfully assessed cost attendant to the penalty are not paid within thirty (30) days after the assessment becomes final, or by the qualifying deadline for election, whichever is earlier, the candidate owing such civil penalty shall be ineligible to qualify for election to any state or local public office until such penalty and costs are paid.
    3. If a civil penalty authorized by this section is imposed, it shall be considered as a personal judgment against the candidate.
  3. A candidate for state or local public office who fails to file any statement or report required by this part shall be ineligible to qualify for election to any state or local public office until such statement or report is filed with either the registry or the appropriate county election commission, or both.
  4. It is the intent of the general assembly that the sanctions provided in this section shall be the civil penalties enacted into law by Acts 1989, ch. 585.
    1. For any civil penalty levied by the registry against a multicandidate political campaign committee under this section or § 2-10-308, the treasurer of the committee is personally liable for the penalty.
    2. If a civil penalty lawfully assessed and any lawfully assessed cost attendant to the penalty are not paid within thirty (30) days after the assessment becomes final, the multicandidate political campaign committee owing the civil penalty shall be prohibited from receiving contributions; making expenditures to support or oppose candidates; or making expenditures to other multicandidate political campaign committees; and the treasurer and officers of such delinquent multicandidate political campaign committee shall be prohibited from creating another multicandidate political campaign committee or serving as a treasurer or an officer for another multicandidate political campaign committee until such penalty and all costs attendant to the penalty are paid in full.

Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 11; 1989, ch. 585, § 19; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1990, ch. 943, § 2; 1991, ch. 519, §§ 7-9; 1996, ch. 1005, § 3; 1997, ch. 464, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 6; 2007, ch. 151, §§ 1, 2.

Compiler's Notes. For codification of Acts 1989, ch. 585, referred to in this section, see the Session Law Disposition Tables in Volume 13.

Acts 1997, ch. 464, § 2 provides that this act shall apply to any conduct that occurs on or after June 13, 1997, leading to the imposition of a penalty.

References to the county “registrar-at-large” and “deputy registrar” have been changed to “administrator of elections” and “deputy”, respectively, pursuant to Acts 1997, ch. 558, §§ 21 and 22.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Certified mail in lieu of registered mail, § 1-3-111.

Textbooks. Tennessee Jurisprudence, 3 Tenn. Juris., Attorney General, § 4.

Law Reviews.

Curtailing the Cudgel of “Coordination” by Curing Confusion: How States Can Fix What the Feds Got Wrong on Campaign Finance, 48 U. Mem. L. Rev. 463 (2017).

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality of subsections (c) and (d), OAG 96-149 (12/31/96).

Failure to file conflict of interest disclosure report, OAG 97-134 (9/29/97).

An individual who has an unpaid civil assessment imposed by the registry of election finance or a county election commission that has been final for more than 30 days may not qualify to win election as a write-in candidate and take office, unless the assessment is paid on or before election day, OAG 02-082 (7/19/02).

An individual who has not filed a required disclosure report may not qualify to win election as a write-in candidate and take office, unless the report is filed on or before election day, OAG 02-082 (7/19/02).

Under this section, it is not entirely clear that the Registry of Election Finance may levy a penalty for class 2 offenses against a single-issue political campaign committee; because the Registry has the jurisdiction to administer and enforce disclosure requirements, questions about applicable penalties should be referred first to that agency, OAG 04-135 (8/23/04).

The U.S. Postal Service notation of “unclaimed” may be treated as a refusal to accept delivery and equivalent to service or receipt, whether the letter was sent within Tennessee or out of Tennessee, OAG 04-141 (8/31/04).

2-10-111. Notification of local election by county election commission — Report of compliance with statement filings — Reporting of late filings.

  1. Each county election commission shall notify the state election commission and the registry of election finance of each local election held in that county at the same time that public notice is posted for the election.
  2. Each time that a statement for a candidate for local public office or political campaign committee for a local election is due to be filed with the county election commission under § 2-10-105, the county election commission shall file with the registry of election finance a report certifying that all candidates have filed the report timely or a list of all candidates who have failed to report timely. For each local candidate who is reported to the registry of election finance as filing late, the county election commission shall be required to file, on a form prescribed by the registry, information pertaining to the late filing. The registry shall determine by rule what information from the county election commission shall be necessary. Any changes or revisions to the rules shall be promulgated pursuant to § 4-55-103(1).

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 6; 2009, ch. 556, § 5.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-10-111 (Acts 1980, ch. 861, § 12; 1984, ch. 683, §§ 4, 7; 1989, ch. 585, § 20; 1990, ch. 943, §§ 5, 6; 1990, ch. 1048, § 4; 1993, ch. 49, §§ 1, 2), concerning inspection of statements and notice to candidate or political campaign committee, was repealed by Acts 2005, ch. 227, § 1, effective May 27, 2005.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Bureau of ethics and campaign finance, title 4, ch. 55.

2-10-112. Application of outstanding balance of campaign account cannot exceed campaign contribution limits.

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any candidate who has a previous campaign account with an outstanding balance and who chooses to apply contributions to that previous campaign account, shall not exceed the campaign contribution limits in part 3 of this chapter, for the election cycle during which the candidate accepts the contribution, regardless of whether such candidate applies the amount to the previous campaign account or to the current campaign account. Under no circumstances shall the candidate exceed the contribution limits for the election cycle to which the previous campaign account with an outstanding balance applies.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 19.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-10-112 (Acts 1986, ch. 780, § 1), concerning contributions from groups headquartered out of state, was repealed by Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 32.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

2-10-113. Digital currency as campaign contribution.

  1. A candidate or political campaign committee is allowed to accept digital currency as a contribution. Digital currency shall be considered a monetary contribution with the value of the digital currency being the market value of the digital currency at the time the contribution is received.
  2. Any increase in the value of digital currency being held by a candidate or political campaign committee shall be reported as interest on any statement filed pursuant to § 2-10-105.
  3. A candidate or political campaign committee must sell any digital currency and deposit the proceeds from those sales into a campaign account before spending the funds.

Acts 2015, ch. 379, § 2.

Effective Dates. Acts 2015, ch. 379 § 3. April 30, 2015.

2-10-114. Campaign funds — Allocation of unexpended contributions — Use of funds — Specifically prohibited uses of funds — Allocation of funds on death of incumbent or candidate.

  1. Any candidate for public office in this state shall allocate an unexpended balance of contributions after the election to one (1) or a combination of the following:
    1. The funds may be retained or transferred to any campaign fund pursuant to Tennessee reporting requirements;
    2. The funds may be returned to any or all of the candidate's contributors, in accordance with a formula or plan specified in the candidate's disclosure of the allocation;
    3. The funds may be distributed to the executive committee of the candidate's political party;
    4. The funds may be deposited in the volunteer public education trust fund established under title 49, chapter 3, part 4;
    5. The funds may be distributed to any organization described in 26 U.S.C. § 170(c);
    6. The funds may be distributed to an organization that has received a determination of exemption from the United States internal revenue service pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) or (4), if such organization is currently operating under such exemption;
    7. The funds may be used to defray any ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the office of the officeholder. Such expenses may include, but are not limited to, the cost of advertisements, membership fees, and donations to community causes; and
    8. The funds may be distributed to any institution of public or private education in the state, for the purpose of supplementing the funds of an existing scholarship trust or program.
    1. Except as provided in subsection (a), no candidate for public office shall use any campaign funds for any other purpose other than a contribution or expenditure as defined by this part. The disbursement of campaign funds for a candidate's own personal use is not permitted. For the purpose of this section, “personal use” means any use by which the candidate for public office or elected public official would be required to treat the amount of the expenditure as gross income under 26 U.S.C. § 61, or any subsequent corresponding Internal Revenue Code section.
    2. Expenditures that are specifically prohibited under this section include, but are not limited to:
      1. Any residential or household items, supplies or expenditures, including mortgage, rent or utility payments for any part of any personal residence of a candidate or officeholder or a member of the candidate's or officeholder's family;
      2. Mortgage, rent, or utility payments for any part of any nonresidential property that is owned by a candidate or officeholder or a member of a candidate's or officeholder's family and used for campaign purposes, to the extent the payments exceed the fair market value of the property usage;
      3. Funeral, cremation, or burial expenses related to deaths within a candidate's or officeholder's family;
      4. Clothing, other than items of de minimis value that are used in the campaign;
      5. Tuition payments within a candidate's or officeholder's family other than those associated with training campaign staff or associated with an officeholder's duties;
      6. Dues, fees, or gratuities at a country club, health club, or recreational facility, unless they are part of a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization's premises;
      7. Salary payments to a member of a candidate's family, unless the family member is providing bona fide services to the campaign. If a family member provides bona fide services to the campaign, any salary payment in excess of the fair market value of the services provided is a prohibited use;
      8. Admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, activity, charitable event or other form of entertainment, unless the event is an expense associated with a legitimate campaign or officeholder activity, where the tickets to such event are provided to students attending schools, guests or constituents of the candidate or officeholder, or persons involved in the candidate's or officeholder's campaign;
      9. Payments for grooming or enhancing one's personal appearance unrelated to campaign activities; or
      10. Payment of any fines, fees, or penalties assessed pursuant to this chapter or title 3, chapter 6.
    3. A violation of this subsection (b) is a Class 2 offense as defined in § 2-10-110(a)(2).
  2. In addition to the manner in which unexpended balances in the campaign account of a candidate may be allocated under the provisions of subsection (a), if an incumbent dies while in office and has an unexpended balance in a campaign account, and if such incumbent's surviving spouse or child is appointed to fill the unexpired term of the deceased incumbent or is elected to the office previously held by the deceased, then the balance remaining in the campaign account of such deceased incumbent shall be transferred to the campaign account of the surviving spouse or child of the deceased incumbent for use by such surviving spouse or child as a candidate for election to public office in accordance with this part.
    1. In the event a candidate for public office dies with an unexpended balance of contributions in such candidate's campaign account and the provisions of subsection (c) are not applicable, then the following individuals, in the descending order, are authorized to allocate such unexpended balance to those persons, political parties, or charitable organizations listed in subdivisions (a)(2)-(6) and (a)(8):
      1. The deceased candidate, if the candidate provided for allocation of an unexpended balance through the candidate's will;
      2. The deceased candidate's treasurer, unless the candidate was the treasurer;
      3. The surviving spouse of the deceased candidate, if the candidate was the treasurer; and
      4. The next of kin of the deceased candidate, if the provisions of subdivisions (d)(1)(B) and (C) do not apply.
    2. If a decision is not made by any such individual, or individuals where subdivision (d)(1)(D) applies, within one (1) year of the date of death of the deceased candidate, then the unexpended balance shall be distributed by the registry of election finance to the volunteer public education trust fund established under title 49, chapter 3, part 4.
  3. Notwithstanding subsection (a), if a member of the general assembly raises funds for a local public office during the time the general assembly is in session in accordance with § 2-10-310(a), then any unexpended balance of contributions in the campaign account established by that member of the general assembly for the member's candidacy for local public office shall not be used for or distributed to a campaign fund:
    1. For the benefit of any election for any candidate for the general assembly;
    2. For the benefit of any statewide election, or any state, national or other political party;
    3. For the benefit of any state, national or other political party caucus; or
    4. For the benefit of any state, national or other political party caucus member.

Acts 1992, ch. 932, § 1; 2001, ch. 384, § 1; 2002, ch. 470, § 2; 2002, ch. 600, § 1; 2005, ch. 163, §§ 3, 4; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 8; 2011, ch. 389, § 2.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Transfer of funds or assets from federal to state election campaign committee prohibited, § 2-10-119.

Attorney General Opinions. 1990 and 1992 campaigns, reporting requirements, OAG 94-034 (3/18/94).

Application to pre-1993 campaigns, scope of disclosure, OAG 94-035 (3/18/94).

Use of contributions for legal expenses, OAG 97-146 (10/23/97).

Surplus campaign funds of deceased candidate for state or local office, OAG 99-118 (5/14/99).

Candidate may not transfer debt properly attributable to an earlier election cycle to a later election account and use contributions collected during the later election cycle to pay off the outstanding debts from the earlier campaign, OAG 03-089 (7/15/03).

Candidate may not use campaign funds to pay civil penalties assessed by the registry of election finance, OAG 05-100 (6/20/05).

Use of campaign funds for legislative trip, OAG 05-166 (10/31/05).

2-10-115. Disclosure of income, positions and trusts by the governor, secretary of state, comptroller of the treasury, treasurer, governor's cabinet, cabinet level staff, or their spouses — Posting of information — Form.

  1. The governor, secretary of state, comptroller of the treasury, treasurer, any member of the governor's cabinet, cabinet level staff, and those persons' spouses shall report annually to the Tennessee ethics commission prior to April 15 the following information for the prior calendar year:
    1. The major source or sources of private income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), including, but not limited to, offices, directorships, and salaried employments of the person making disclosure, but no dollar amounts need be stated. The disclosure shall state the name and address of any entity that provides a source of private income of more than two hundred dollars ($200). This subdivision (a)(1) shall not be construed to require the disclosure of any client list or customer list, nor the address of any investment property. When reporting private income received from a security listed on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq, the disclosure may state only the name of the entity, in lieu of disclosing the name and address of the entity. If a person listed in subsection (a) or their spouse's ownership of a business enterprise's securities provides income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), then the business enterprise shall be named in lieu of any investment brokerage firm or other fiduciary that may possess or manage the securities on behalf of such person or spouse. If a person listed in subsection (a) or their spouse's ownership of shares of a mutual fund provides income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), then the mutual fund shall be named in lieu of the business enterprises whose securities are owned by the mutual fund. For purposes of this subdivision (a)(1), income shall be reported for the calendar year in which it is received. When reporting private income received from investments with a federal or state chartered bank, the disclosure may state only the name of the bank, in lieu of stating the name and address of the bank;
    2. Any positions held during the applicable reporting period, including, but not limited to, those of an officer, director, trustee, general partner, proprietor, or representative of any corporation, firm, partnership, or other business enterprise, or any nonprofit organization or educational institution. Both the year and month shall be reported for the period of time the position was held. Positions with the federal government, religious, social, fraternal, or political entities, and those solely of an honorary nature do not require disclosure; and
    3. Any trust considered to be a “blind trust” pursuant to § 35-50-120 to which a person listed in subsection (a) or their spouse is an interested party. The person making disclosure shall state that the person is an interested party to a blind trust and provide the name and address of the trustee of the trust. Notwithstanding any provisions of this subdivision (a)(3) to the contrary, the person making disclosure is not required to disclose any individual asset held in a blind trust.
  2. The reports in subsection (a) shall be posted on the web site of the Tennessee ethics commission. The Tennessee ethics commission shall modify existing forms to accomplish the purposes of this section.
  3. The commission shall create a consolidated form that collects the information required to be reported by this section and § 8-50-502. Any person, who is required to disclose information pursuant to this section and §  8-50-501, who files the consolidated form in a manner that complies with the requirements of those sections, shall fulfill the requirements of this section and §  8-50-501. Filing the consolidated form prior to April 15 as required by this section shall also fulfill the requirements of §§ 8-50-503 and 8-50-504.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 33.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1992, ch. 932 and Acts 1992, ch. 978 enacted identical sections, which were originally codified as §§ 2-10-114 and 2-10-115. In light of the codification of § 2-10-114, the code commission deems § 2-10-115 unnecessary and has instructed the compiler to remove it from the code.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

2-10-116. Honorarium defined — Acceptance of honorarium by public official.

  1. The acceptance of an honorarium by a public official in such person's capacity as a public official is prohibited. “Honorarium” means a payment of money or any thing of value for an appearance, speech or article, but does not include actual and necessary travel expenses, meals and lodging associated with such appearance, speech or article.
  2. Acceptance of an honorarium for an appearance, speech or article by a public official in such person's capacity as a private business person, professional or tradesperson is not prohibited.
  3. As used in this section, “public official” means:
    1. Each person holding any state public office filled by the voters;
    2. Each person holding any local public office filled by the voters;
    3. Each member of the governor's cabinet; and
    4. Each cabinet level staff person employed within the governor's office.

Acts 1992, ch. 978, § 4; 2006, ch. 545, § 1.

Attorney General Opinions. T.C.A. § 2-10-116 supersedes Canons 4.B and 4.H of the Code of Judicial Conduct contained in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10 and prohibits an elected general sessions judge from accepting honoraria for lecturing about the creation and history of the judge's specialized court and assisting other counties and cities in establishing such courts, OAG 02-004 (1/2/02).

2-10-117. Contributions from political action committees within ten days of election.

No multicandidate political campaign committee other than a committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly shall make a contribution to any candidate after the tenth day before an election until the day of the election.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 10; 2009, ch. 319, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 17 provided that that act shall only apply to contributions and expenditures made after January 1, 1996.

2-10-118. Filing by responsible party with prior assessment record.

  1. It is unlawful for a responsible party of a multicandidate political campaign committee who has a prior assessment record to intentionally fail to file a required report under this chapter, for which the party is responsible for filing, within thirty-five (35) days after service of process or receipt of notice from the registry by registered or certified mail. For the purposes of this section, “responsible party” is the treasurer of the committee appointed pursuant to § 2-10-105(e), or if no treasurer has been appointed, any person who organizes or directs the fundraising activities of a multicandidate political campaign committee. A responsible party shall be considered to have a prior assessment record for purposes of this section if during the person's service as a responsible party to one (1) or more multicandidate political campaign committees, the committee or committees violate on two (2) or more occasions § 2-10-110 or § 2-10-308 and such violations result in the committee or committees being assessed a penalty by the registry.
  2. A violation of this section is a Class E felony.

Acts 1997, ch. 399, § 1.

Cross-References. Certified mail in lieu of registered mail, § 1-3-111.

Penalty for Class E felony, § 40-35-111.

2-10-119. Transfer of funds or assets from federal to state election campaign committee prohibited.

Transfers of funds or assets from a candidate's campaign committee or account for a federal election to a political campaign committee of or for such candidate for public office in this state is prohibited.

Acts 2000, ch. 612, § 1.

Cross-References. Campaign funds, allocation of unexpended contributions, use of funds, specifically prohibited uses of funds, allocation of funds on death of incumbent or candidate, § 2-10-114.

2-10-120. Authority of county election commission.

The county election commission has the authority to forward information regarding violation of disclosure laws by candidates for local public office to the district attorney general for investigation without the necessity of a sworn complaint from a registered voter as provided by § 2-10-108.

Acts 2000, ch. 756, § 19.

2-10-121. Registration fee for political campaign committees.

No later than January 31 of each year, each multicandidate political campaign committee registered with the registry of election finance shall pay a registration fee to be determined by rule promulgated pursuant to § 4-55-103(1). Payment of the registration fee by one (1) affiliated political campaign committee includes any disclosed affiliated committees registering separately; payment of the registration fee by a statewide political party, as defined in § 2-1-104, includes any disclosed subsidiaries of the political party registering separately. For any multicandidate political campaign committee registering a new committee during any year, the committee shall pay the appropriate registration fee at the time that it certifies its political treasurer. All fees collected under this section shall be retained and used for expenses related to maintaining an electronic filing system.

Acts 2003, ch. 414, § 2; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 9; 2009, ch. 556, § 6; 2019, ch. 77, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2019 amendment added the second sentence, and deleted the former last sentence, which read: “This section shall not apply to any statewide political party as defined in § 2-1-104 or subsidiaries of the political party.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 77, § 2. April 1, 2019.

Cross-References. Bureau of ethics and campaign finance, title 4, ch. 55.

2-10-122. Definitions for §§ 2-10-122 — 2-10-128.

As used in this section and §§ 2-10-1232-10-128, unless the context otherwise requires:

  1. “Consulting services” with respect to an official in the legislative branch or an official in the executive branch means services to advise or assist a person or entity in influencing legislative or administrative action, as that term is defined in § 3-6-301, relative to Tennessee state government. “Consulting services” with respect to an official in the legislative branch or an official in the executive branch also means services to advise or assist a person or entity in maintaining, applying for, soliciting or entering into a contract with the state of Tennessee. “Consulting services” does not mean the practice or business of law in connection with representation of clients by a licensed attorney in a contested case action, administrative proceeding or rule making procedure;
  2. “Consulting services” with respect to an elected municipal or county official, including a member-elect of a municipal or county legislative body, means services to advise or assist a person or entity in influencing legislative or administrative action, as that term is defined in § 3-6-301, relative to the municipality or county represented by that official. “Consulting services” with respect to an elected municipal or county official, including a member-elect of a municipal or county legislative body, also means services to advise or assist a person or entity in maintaining, applying for, soliciting or entering into a contract with the municipality or county represented by that official. “Consulting services” does not mean the practice or business of law in connection with representation of clients by a licensed attorney in a contested case action, administrative proceeding or rule making procedure;
  3. “Fee, commission, or any other form of compensation” and “compensation” do not include anything of value that may be accepted under § 2-10-116 or that is identified in § 3-6-305(b);
  4. “Official in the executive branch” means the governor, any member of the governor's staff or any person in the executive service as such term is defined in § 8-30-202; provided, however, that “official in the executive branch” shall not include members of boards and commissions who receive only expenses or a nominal per diem not to exceed six hundred dollars ($600) per month, unless they provide consulting services for compensation with respect to the activities of the board or commission of which they are a member; and
  5. “Official in the legislative branch” has the same meaning as the term is defined in § 3-6-301.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 29.

Compiler's Notes. In light of the passage of Acts 2012, ch. 800, which rewrote the civil service provisions, the reference to § 8-30-208 was changed to § 8-30-202 in (4).

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that act is, and may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Attorney General Opinions. Advising and consulting with business clients under the Ethics Act, OAG 05-096 (6/17/05).

Consulting under the Ethics Act of 2005, OAG 05-098 (6/20/05).

Legislator as president of the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association, OAG 05-126 (8/22/05).

Applicability and enforcement of disclosure requirements under the Ethics Act, OAG 06-002 (1/4/06).

Citizen school board member conflicts of interest.  OAG 10-46, 2010 Tenn. AG LEXIS 46 (4/12/10).

2-10-123. Violations at state level — Penalties.

  1. It is an offense for any member of the general assembly, member-elect of the general assembly, governor, member of the governor's staff, secretary of state, treasurer, or comptroller of the treasury to knowingly receive a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services from any person or entity, other than compensation paid by the state, a county or municipality.
  2. It is an offense for any person or other entity, other than the state, a county or a municipality, to pay a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services to a person such person or entity knows to be a member of the general assembly, member-elect of the general assembly, governor, member of the governor's staff, secretary of state, treasurer, or comptroller of the treasury.
      1. If conduct giving rise to a violation of this section would also constitute the offense of bribery prohibited by § 39-16-102, then such violation is a Class C felony. Any person convicted of such offense shall forever afterwards be disqualified from holding any office under the laws or constitution of this state.
      2. Nothing contained within this section shall be construed to prohibit prosecution and conviction for the Class C felony offense of bribery of a public servant, set forth in § 39-16-102; nor shall it be construed to prohibit prosecution and conviction for any other applicable criminal offense.
    1. Any other violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor. Any person convicted of such offense shall forever afterwards be disqualified from holding any office under the laws or constitution of this state.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class A misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Penalty for Class C felony, § 40-35-111.

Attorney General Opinions. Legislator as president of the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association, OAG 05-126 (8/22/05).

Direct appropriation grant to corporation for which legislator is president, OAG 05-169 (11/3/05).

Conflicts of interest involving state and county election commissions, OAG 06-159 (10/9/06).

Service on the board of the Tellico Reservoir Development Agency by a state representative, OAG 07-036 (3/26/07).

Legislator would not be prohibited from directly participating in efforts to assist his or her employer in obtaining contracts with municipalities and counties and receiving compensation from the employer for those efforts, OAG 08-192 (12/29/08).

2-10-124. Violations at local level — Penalties.

  1. It is an offense for any member of a municipal or county legislative body, member-elect of a municipal or county legislative body, or other elected county or municipal official to knowingly receive a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services, other than compensation paid by the state, a county, or municipality.
  2. It is an offense for any person or other entity, other than the state, a county, or a municipality, to pay a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services relating to a municipality or county if such person or entity knows the person to whom the compensation is paid is a member of the municipal or county legislative body, a member-elect of the municipal or county legislative body, or other elected municipal or county official in the county or municipality in which the consulting services are to be performed.
      1. If conduct giving rise to a violation of this section would also constitute the offense of bribery prohibited by § 39-16-102, then such violation is a Class C felony. Any person convicted of such offense shall forever afterwards be disqualified from holding any office under the laws or constitution of this state.
      2. Nothing contained within this section shall be construed to prohibit prosecution and conviction for the Class C felony offense of bribery of a public servant, set forth in § 39-16-102; nor shall it be construed to prohibit prosecution and conviction for any other applicable criminal offense.
    1. Any other violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor. Any person convicted of such offense shall forever afterwards be disqualified from holding any office under the laws or constitution of this state.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class A misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Penalty for Class C felony, § 40-35-111.

Attorney General Opinions. Consulting under the Ethics Act of 2005, OAG 05-098 (6/20/05).

Conflicts of interest involving state and county election commissions, OAG 06-159 (10/9/06).

Citizen school board member conflicts of interest.  OAG 10-46, 2010 Tenn. AG LEXIS 46 (4/12/10).

2-10-125. Disclosure of contract for consulting services to the Tennessee ethics commission.

  1. If any person or other entity, other than the state, a county or municipality, contracts to pay a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services to any staff person or employee of the general assembly; member of a commission established by and responsible to the general assembly or either house of the general assembly; member or employee of a state regulatory commission, including, without limitation, commissioners of the Tennessee public utility commission; or member or employee of any executive department or agency or other state body in the executive branch, then such person or entity shall disclose the following to the Tennessee ethics commission:
    1. The person to whom the fee was paid;
    2. The position of the person to whom the fee was paid;
    3. The amount of the fee;
    4. The date the services were rendered; and
    5. A general description of the services rendered.
  2. The disclosure shall be on a form designed by the Tennessee ethics commission, shall be made under oath, and shall contain a statement that a false statement on the report is subject to the penalties of perjury. A disclosure form shall be filed within five (5) days of entering into any contract for consulting services. Such form shall be updated quarterly. The dates for filing the quarterly reports shall be determined by the Tennessee ethics commission.
  3. All disclosures made to the commission pursuant to this section are public records and open for inspection during regular business hours.
    1. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to knowingly fail to file a disclosure form as required by this section.
    2. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to file a disclosure form required by this section more than thirty (30) days after the date on which the report is due.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 28; 2017, ch. 94, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2017 amendment substituted “commissioners of the Tennessee public utility commission” for “directors of the Tennessee regulatory authority” in the introductory language of (a).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 94, § 83. April 4, 2017.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Records open to public inspection, § 10-7-503.

2-10-126. Disclosure of fees, commissions or any other form of compensation for consulting services to the Tennessee ethics commission.

  1. Any staff person or employee of the general assembly; member of a commission established by and responsible to the general assembly or either house of the general assembly; member or employee of a state regulatory commission, including, without limitation, commissioners of the Tennessee public utility commission; or member or employee of any executive department or agency or other state body in the executive branch, who contracts to receive a fee, commission or any other form of compensation for consulting services from a person or entity other than the state, a county or municipality, shall be required to make the same disclosure required by § 2-10-125. The Tennessee ethics commission may devise a new form for disclosure of consulting fees or may modify the one required by § 2-10-125 for use by all parties required to disclose.
  2. All disclosures made to the commission pursuant to this section are public records and open for inspection during regular business hours.
  3. The disclosure shall be on a form designed by the Tennessee ethics commission, shall be made under oath, and shall contain a statement that a false statement on the report is subject to the penalties of perjury. A disclosure form shall be filed within five (5) days of entering any contract for consulting services. Such form shall be updated quarterly. The dates for filing the quarterly reports shall be determined by the Tennessee ethics commission.
    1. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to knowingly fail to file a disclosure form required by this section.
    2. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to file a disclosure form required by this section more than thirty (30) days after the date on which the report is due.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 28; 2017, ch. 94, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2017 amendment substituted “commissioners of the Tennessee public utility commission” for “directors of the Tennessee regulatory authority” in first sentence of (a).

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 94, § 83. April 4, 2017.

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Records open to public inspection, § 10-7-503.

2-10-127. Reports by members of the general assembly, members-elect of the general assembly, governor, members of the governor's staff, secretary of state, treasurer, or comptroller of the treasury regarding siblings, spouses or children who are lobbyists.

  1. Any person subject to the prohibition in § 2-10-123(a), whose sibling, spouse or child is required to register as a lobbyist under § 3-6-302, shall report in writing, on a form developed by the Tennessee ethics commission:
    1. The name of the person making the disclosure and such person's business address;
    2. The name and business address of the sibling, spouse or child;
    3. The position of the sibling, spouse or child; and
    4. The name and address of each person for whom the sibling, spouse or child registers for the purpose of lobbying.
  2. The report shall be filed with the commission annually no later than February 1.
  3. Each person subject to the prohibition in § 2-10-123(a) shall file a supplementary report with the Tennessee ethics commission that includes a complete description of any information that has changed from the information supplied in the last registration form or last report. Such supplementary reports shall be filed within ten (10) days of any such change.
    1. A person subject to the prohibition in § 2-10-123(a) shall declare before taking a legislative or administrative action on any matter: “It may be considered that I have a degree of personal interest in the subject matter of this bill or action, but I declare that my argument and my ultimate vote answer only to my conscience and to my obligation to my constituents and the citizens of the state of Tennessee,” if:
      1. The person is employed by a business entity that employs a lobbyist, and such lobbyist is employed by the business entity to lobby such legislative or administrative action; or
      2. The matter is lobbied by a sibling, spouse or child of the person subject to the prohibition in § 2-10-123(a).
    2. The person may alternatively state that the person is declaring a potential conflict of interest, in accordance with this section, or indicate the conflict via the voting board in the chamber of the house of representatives or the senate.
  4. The report shall be made under oath and shall contain a statement that a false statement on the report is subject to the penalties of perjury.
  5. All disclosures made to the commission pursuant to this section are public records and open for inspection during regular business hours.
  6. Failure to file a report required by this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 28, 30, 31.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Records open to public inspection, § 10-7-503.

2-10-128. Disclosures required of members of the general assembly.

  1. Each member of the general assembly and the member's spouse shall annually report in writing to the Tennessee ethics commission, prior to April 15, the following information for the prior calendar year:
    1. The major source or sources of private income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), including, but not limited to, offices, directorships, and salaried employments of the person making disclosure, and such person's spouse, but no dollar amounts need be stated. The disclosure shall state the name and address of any entity that provides a source of private income of more than two hundred dollars ($200). This subdivision (a)(1) shall not be construed to require the disclosure of any client list or customer list, nor the address of any investment property. When reporting private income received from a security listed on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq, the disclosure may state only the name of the entity, in lieu of disclosing the name and address of the entity. If a member or spouse's ownership of a business enterprise's securities provides income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), then the business enterprise shall be named in lieu of any investment brokerage firm or other fiduciary that may possess or manage the securities on behalf of the member or spouse. If a member or spouse's ownership of shares of a mutual fund provides income of more than two hundred dollars ($200), then the mutual fund shall be named in lieu of the business enterprises whose securities are owned by the mutual fund. For purposes of this subdivision (a)(1), income shall be reported for the calendar year in which it is received. When reporting private income received from investments with a federal or state chartered bank, the disclosure may state only the name of the bank, in lieu of stating the name and address of the bank;
    2. Any positions held during the applicable reporting period, including, but not limited to, those of an officer, director, trustee, general partner, proprietor, or representative of any corporation, firm, partnership, or other business enterprise, or any non-profit organization or educational institution. Both the year and month must be reported for the period of time the position was held. Positions with the federal government, religious, social, fraternal, or political entities, and those solely of an honorary nature do not require disclosure; and
    3. Any trust considered to be a “blind trust” pursuant to § 35-50-120 to which a member or the member's spouse is an interested party. The person making disclosure shall state that the person is an interested party to a blind trust and provide the name and address of the trustee of the trust. Notwithstanding any provisions of this subdivision (a)(3) to the contrary, the person making disclosure is not required to disclose any individual asset held in a blind trust.
  2. The reports in subsection (a) shall be posted on the web site of the Tennessee ethics commission. The Tennessee ethics commission shall modify existing forms to accomplish the purposes of this section.
  3. The commission shall create a consolidated form that provides for the disclosure of the information required to be reported by this section and § 8-50-502. Any person who is required to disclose information pursuant to this section and §  8-50-501 who files the consolidated form in a manner that complies with the requirements of those sections shall fulfill the requirements of this section and §  8-50-501. Filing the consolidated form prior to April 15 as required by this section shall also fulfill the requirements of §§ 8-50-503 and 8-50-504.

Acts 2005, ch. 102, § 1; 2005, ch. 476, § 2; 2005, ch. 486, §§ 2, 3; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 28, 32.

Code Commission Notes.

This section was amended by two acts in 2005, first by ch. 476, § 2, effective June 20, 2005, then by ch. 486, §§ 2 and 3, effective July 2, 2005, neither of the acts referring to the other. The section as set out above reflects the amendments by ch. 486. Acts 2005, ch. 476 purported to amend this section with provisions that are identical to those made by ch. 486, § 2, but with an effective date that predates the effective date of the section and was given no effect.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that act is, and may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Attorney General Opinions. Service on the board of the Tellico Reservoir Development Agency by a state representative, OAG 07-036 (3/26/07).

2-10-129. Disclosure of fees paid to a member of the general assembly or the member's spouse for services performed outside of the state.

    1. If any person or other entity that contracts with the state of Tennessee, pays more than a two hundred dollar ($200) fee, commission or other form of compensation, to a member of the general assembly or a member's spouse, for consulting services on contracts to which the state of Tennessee is not a party, and for which such consulting services are to be rendered outside the state of Tennessee, then such person or entity shall disclose the following to the Tennessee ethics commission:
      1. The name and address of the person or entity paying the fee, commission or other form of compensation;
      2. The person to whom the fee, commission or other form of compensation was paid, including the amount paid;
      3. The position of the person to whom the fee, commission or other form of compensation was paid;
      4. The date the services were rendered; and
      5. A general description of the services rendered.
    2. As used in this subsection (a), “consulting services” means services performed outside the state of Tennessee, which would be defined as “influencing legislative or administrative action”, in § 3-6-301, if such services were performed in the state of Tennessee. “Consulting services” also includes services to advise or assist a person or entity in maintaining, applying for, soliciting or entering into a contract with a state other than the state of Tennessee.
  1. The disclosure shall be on a form designed by the Tennessee ethics commission, shall be made under oath, and shall contain a statement that a false statement on the report is subject to the penalties of perjury. A disclosure form shall be filed within five (5) days of entering into a contract not involving the state of Tennessee with a member of the general assembly. Such form shall be updated annually, no later than February 1, if necessary.
  2. All disclosures made to the commission pursuant to this section are public records, and are open for inspection during regular business hours.
    1. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to knowingly fail to file a disclosure form as required by this section.
    2. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to file a disclosure form required by this section more than thirty (30) days after the date on which the report is due.

Acts 2005, ch. 476, § 3; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 28.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Records open to public inspection, § 10-7-503.

2-10-130. Disclosure of fees, commissions or other compensation for consulting services paid to the governor, secretary of state, comptroller of the treasury, treasurer, governor's cabinet, cabinet level staff, or their spouses.

  1. If any person or other entity that contracts with the state of Tennessee, pays more than a two hundred dollar ($200) fee, commission or other form of compensation, to the governor, secretary of state, comptroller of the treasury, treasurer, any member of the governor's cabinet, any cabinet level staff, or such persons' spouses, for consulting services on contracts to which the state of Tennessee is not a party, and for which consulting services are to be rendered outside the state of Tennessee, then the person or entity shall disclose the following to the Tennessee ethics commission:
    1. The name and address of the person or entity paying the fee, commission or other form of compensation;
    2. The person to whom the fee, commission or other form of compensation was paid, including the amount paid;
    3. The position of the person to whom the fee, commission or other form of compensation was paid;
    4. The date the services were rendered; and
    5. A general description of the services rendered.
  2. As used in this section, “consulting services” means services performed outside the state of Tennessee that would be defined as influencing legislative or administrative action, in § 3-6-301, if those services were performed in the state of Tennessee. “Consulting services” also includes services to advise or assist a person or entity in maintaining, applying for, soliciting or entering into a contract with a state other than the state of Tennessee.
  3. The disclosure shall be on a form designed by the Tennessee ethics commission, shall be made under oath, and shall contain a statement that a false statement on the report is subject to the penalties of perjury. A disclosure form shall be filed within five (5) days of entering into a contract not involving the state of Tennessee with persons subject to subsection (a). The form shall be updated annually, no later than February 1, if necessary.
  4. All disclosures made to the commission pursuant to this section are public records, and are open for inspection during regular business hours.
    1. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to knowingly fail to file a disclosure form as required by this section.
    2. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person or entity to file a disclosure form required by this section more than thirty (30) days after the date on which the report is due.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 34.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Penalty for Class C misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Offense of perjury, penalties, title 39, chapter 16, part 7.

Records open to public inspection, § 10-7-503.

2-10-131. Investment of campaign funds.

  1. All campaign funds must be deposited into and maintained in a financial institution insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation or the national credit union administration duly authorized to do business in Tennessee and operating under the authority of the department of financial institutions, the United States comptroller of the currency, or the federal reserve board.
  2. Any interest, dividends, or income earned by an investment made pursuant to subsection (a) must be reported on the candidate's or political campaign committee's financial disclosure report.
  3. Any campaign contribution received in a non-monetary form may be held in the form received until the contribution is used to pay expenditures. The funds must be deposited in accordance with subsection (a) at the time of conversion.
  4. Any investment not authorized by subsection (a) is prohibited and the candidate, or in the case of a multicandidate political campaign committee, the treasurer, shall be subject to a civil penalty by the registry of election finance. The registry of election finance may impose a maximum civil penalty for a violation of this section of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or one hundred fifteen percent (115%) of the amount invested in violation of this section, whichever is greater.

Acts 2017, ch. 109, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-10-131 (Acts 2010, ch. 1095, § 3; repealed by Acts 2011, ch. 389, § 3, effective June 1, 2011), concerned the prohibition against corporations making contributions to any candidate.

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 109, § 2. July 1, 2017.

2-10-132. Designation as a political campaign committee for reporting purposes.

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a corporation that uses corporate funds, moneys or credits for communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate which funds, moneys or credits are not used with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request of, or suggestion of, a candidate or any agent or authorized committee of the candidate shall be considered a political campaign committee for purposes of reporting such expenditures. The corporation shall be required to file reports required by § 2-10-105(c)(1) and an appointment of treasurer form.

Acts 2010, ch. 1095, § 4.

Attorney General Opinions. Corporate contributions to political action committees under Acts 2010, ch. 1095. OAG 11-7, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 7 (1/12/11).

Part 2
Registry of Election Finance

2-10-201. Short title.

This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Registry of Election Finance Act of 1989.”

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 1.

Rule Reference. This section is referred to in the text and Commentary of Rule 10, Canon 5(C) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Law Reviews.

Professional Responsibilities of Lobbyists (William R. Bruce), 23 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 547 (1993).

2-10-202. Legislative intent.

It is the intent of the general assembly to provide adequate financial disclosure by public officials, candidates for public office, and lobbyists. Furthermore, it is the intent of the general assembly to establish a registry of election finance to ensure enforcement of these statutes.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 2.

Attorney General Opinions. Powers of registry of election finance, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

2-10-203. Registry of election finance — Creation — Appointments — Qualifications — Administration.

    1. There is created as a division of the bureau of ethics and campaign finance, as provided in title 4, chapter 55, a Tennessee registry of election finance. The registry shall be composed of six (6) members appointed as provided in this section.
    2. Appointments shall be made to reflect the broadest possible representation of Tennessee citizens. Of the six (6) members appointed, at least one (1) shall be a female and one (1) shall be black. However, a black female shall not satisfy the requirement of one (1) female and one (1) black. Each member shall have been a legal resident of this state for five (5) years immediately preceding selection. Members shall be at least thirty (30) years of age, registered voters in Tennessee, not announced candidates for public office, not members of a political party's state executive committee, shall not have been convicted of an election offense, and shall be persons of high ethical standards who have an active interest in promoting fair elections. Gubernatorial appointees shall be subject to confirmation by joint resolution of the general assembly. Such appointees shall have full power to serve until any vote of nonconfirmation.
  1. The members of the registry of election finance shall also serve as members of the board of directors of the bureau of ethics and campaign finance.
  2. Members of the registry shall be selected for staggered five-year terms as follows:
    1. The governor shall appoint two (2) members. One (1) member shall be appointed from a list of three (3) nominees submitted by the state executive committee of the majority party. One (1) member shall be appointed from a list of three (3) nominees submitted by the state executive committee of the minority party. The governor's solicitations and the replies shall be public records. The governor shall give due consideration to such nominations. The governor may request a second list of nominees; provided, however, no nominees from the original list of nominees may appear on the second list of nominees.
    2. The senate shall appoint two (2) members, with one (1) member to be chosen by the members of the senate democratic caucus and one (1) member to be chosen by the members of the senate republican caucus; and
    3. The house of representatives shall appoint two (2) members, with one (1) member to be chosen by the members of the house of representatives democratic caucus and one (1) member to be chosen by the members of the house of representatives republican caucus.
  3. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the vacating member's office was originally filled.
  4. The registry shall elect a chair from among its appointed membership. The chair shall serve in that capacity for one (1) year and shall be eligible for reelection. The chair shall preside at all meetings and shall have all the powers and privileges of the other members.
  5. The registry shall fix the place and time of its regular meetings by order duly recorded in its minutes. No action shall be taken without a quorum present. Special meetings shall be called by the chair on the chair's initiative or on the written request of four (4) members. Members shall receive seven (7) days' written notice of a special meeting, and the notice shall specify the purpose, time and place of the meeting, and no other matters may be considered, without a specific waiver by all the members.
  6. The members of the registry shall receive no compensation; provided, that each member of the registry shall be eligible for reimbursement for expenses and mileage in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the commissioner of finance and administration and approved by the attorney general and reporter.
  7. No member of the registry or such member's immediate family, as defined in § 3-6-301, shall, during registry membership:
    1. Be allowed to hold or qualify for elective office to any state or local public office, as defined in § 2-10-102;
    2. Be an employee of the state or any political subdivision of the state;
    3. Be an officer of any political party or political committee;
    4. Permit such person's name to be used or make campaign contributions in support of or in opposition to any candidate or proposition, except that a member's immediate family may make campaign contributions in support of or in opposition to any candidate or proposition;
    5. Participate in any way in any election campaign;
    6. Lobby or employ a lobbyist; or
    7. Be employed by any elected officeholder, either in an official capacity or as an individual, or be employed by any business in which an elected officeholder has any direct input concerning employment decisions.
  8. An incumbent member of the registry may seek votes for confirmation of the member's appointment to the registry; provided, that the member shall comply with the provisions of subsection (h).
  9. [Deleted by 2019 amendment.]
    1. Every member of the registry of election finance shall, before they proceed to business, take an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of this state and of the United States and the laws of this state and also the following oath:

      “I  do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as a member of this registry of election finance, I will, in all matters, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any action, measure, or resolution which shall appear to me to be contrary to law.”

    2. Unless otherwise provided by law, any member of the registry who violates the oath of office for that position or participates in any of the activities prohibited by this chapter commits a Class A misdemeanor. If a sworn allegation is made that a member has violated the oath of office for the member's position or has participated in any of the activities prohibited by this chapter, then upon a unanimous vote of the remaining members, the member against whom the sworn allegation is made may be suspended from the registry for such purposes and for such times as the remaining members shall unanimously determine, but no suspension shall extend beyond final disposition of the sworn allegation. The accused member shall not participate in the suspension vote. If a member of the registry is found guilty of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a violation of the oath of office for the member's position or participates in any of the activities prohibited by this chapter, then that member shall be deemed to be removed from office.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 3; 1998, ch. 1062, § 1; 1998, ch. 1082, § 1; 1999, ch. 119, § 1; 2002, ch. 470, § 3; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 21, 22, 24, 25; 2009, ch. 556, §§ 7-9; 2019, ch. 78, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, 24 provided that it is the intent of the general assembly that each current member continue to serve on the registry until such member's term expires and the terms remain staggered.

Amendments. The 2019 amendment deleted former (j), which read: “The provisions of subsection (h) shall be applicable for one (1) year subsequent to the removal, vacancy or termination of the term of office of a member of the registry.”

Effective Dates. Acts 2019, ch. 78, § 2. July 1, 2019.

Cross-References. Bureau of ethics and campaign finance, title 4, ch. 55.

Penalty for Class A misdemeanor, § 40-35-111.

Attorney General Opinions. Powers of registry of election finance, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Restrictions on the immediate family of registry members, OAG 07-142 (10/11/07).

2-10-204. [Repealed.]

Compiler's Notes. Former § 2-10-204 (Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 4), concerning the executive director and employees of the registry of election finance, was repealed by Acts 2009, ch. 556, § 10, effective July 1, 2009.

2-10-205. Jurisdiction to administer and enforce certain statutes.

The registry has the jurisdiction to administer and enforce the provisions of the following:

  1. The Campaign Financial Disclosure Act, compiled in part 1 of this chapter; and
  2. The Campaign Contribution Limits Act, compiled in part 3 of this chapter.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 5; 1995, ch. 531, § 4; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 10.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 17 provided that the amendment by that act shall only apply to contributions and expenditures made after January 1, 1996.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1  provided that act is, and may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Law Reviews.

Professional Responsibilities of Lobbyists (William R. Bruce), 23 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 547 (1993).

2-10-206. Registry of election finance — Duties.

  1. The duties of the registry include the following:
    1. Develop prescribed forms for statements that are required to be filed under the laws pursuant to § 2-10-205, with the objective of making the disclosure statements as simple and understandable as possible for both the person filing the disclosure statement and the average citizen of the state of Tennessee;
    2. Develop a filing, coding and cross-indexing system;
    3. Make each report filed available for public inspection and copying during regular office hours at the expense of any person requesting copies of the same;
    4. Review all filed statements to ensure compliance with the respective disclosure laws. Statements filed with the registry for more than two (2) years shall be deemed to be sufficient, absent a showing of fraud or the existence of an ongoing investigation related to the statement;
    5. Prepare and publish a manual for all candidates and committees, describing the requirements of the law, including uniform methods of bookkeeping and reporting and requirements as to reporting dates and the length of time that candidates and committees are required to keep any records pursuant to the provisions of this part;
    6. Provide an annual report to the governor and the general assembly concerning the administration and enforcement of the disclosure law by January 15 of each year that includes recommendations by the registry or a statement that the registry makes no recommendations;
    7. Investigate any alleged violation upon sworn complaint or upon its own motion. If the registry investigates the records of any selected candidate, it may also investigate the records of all other candidates running for the same office in the same district or other appropriate geographic area;
    8. Preserve all reports or statements for five (5) years from the date of filing, absent any pending investigation by the registry of election finance or any other law enforcement agency, or absent any administrative or court proceeding;
    9. Notify all candidates for state public office in a state election of the requirements for filing any required disclosure statement fourteen (14) days before any fixed deadline provided for such filing; and
    10. Conduct audits.
  2. The registry shall notify each member of the general assembly by sending notice to the member's home address and the member's legislative office address in Nashville.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 6; 1991, ch. 519, § 15; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 11.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Reporting requirement satisfied by notice to general assembly members of publication of report, § 3-1-114.

Attorney General Opinions. Powers of registry of election finance, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

The Registry of Election Finance is not prohibited from considering a sworn statement regarding a legislator's compliance with disclosure and other statutory requirements even if it is not filed by a qualified voter of that legislator's district, OAG 05-022 (3/10/05).

Application of T.C.A. § 2-10-206(a)(4) to statements of local candidates, OAG 05-172 (12/7/05).

2-10-207. Registry of election finance — Powers.

The registry of election finance has the following powers:

  1. Hold hearings, conduct audits, subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel production of books, correspondence, papers and other records;
  2. Issue written advisory opinions concerning compliance with this chapter, which may be relied upon without threat of sanction with respect to the issue addressed by the opinion, if the candidate or committee conforms the candidate's or committee's conduct to the requirements of the advisory opinion. Such advisory opinions shall be posted on the web site of the registry of election finance;
  3. In determining whether an actual violation has occurred, conduct a contested case hearing;
  4. Issue an appropriate order following a determination;
  5. Assess a late filing fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per day up to a maximum total penalty of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750);
  6. Assess a civil penalty for any violation of the disclosure laws as provided by this part. Civil penalties may be assessed for any violation of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act, compiled in part 1 of this chapter, and the Campaign Contribution Limits Act, compiled in part 3 of this chapter; provided, that the registry shall only have the power to assess a civil penalty after notice and opportunity for hearing; and
  7. Where the results of its investigation indicate a criminal act may have occurred, the registry shall refer the matter to the appropriate district attorney general for criminal prosecution.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 7; 1990, ch. 1049, § 3; 1992, ch. 988, § 3; 1995, ch. 531, §§ 5-7; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 12; 2009, ch. 556, § 11.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 17 provided that the amendment by that act shall only apply to contributions and expenditures made after January 1, 1996.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Attorney General Opinions. Powers of registry of election finance, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Cross-References. Bureau of ethics and campaign finance, title 4, ch. 55.

2-10-208. Applicability of part.

  1. All political accounts or funds subject to Tennessee law on January 1, 1990, shall become subject to this part.
  2. For the purposes of enforcement, this part shall be prospective only, and the registry shall limit its investigations to acts or omissions which occur after January 1, 1990.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 30.

2-10-209. Enforcement — Chancery court petitions and orders.

The registry has the authority to petition the chancery court through the attorney general and reporter for enforcement of any order it has issued. The court's order of enforcement has the same force and effect as a civil judgment.

Acts 1989, ch. 585, § 8.

2-10-210. Authority to establish or levy penalty or sanction.

The registry of election finance shall not establish or levy any penalty or sanction for any action alleged to be a violation of the rules and regulations of the registry unless such action is also a violation of a statutory requirement.

Acts 1992, ch. 988, § 4.

2-10-211. Electronic filing system.

  1. The registry of election finance, notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, shall do all of the following:
    1. Develop, with the advice, assistance and approval of the division of strategic technology solutions, an Internet-based electronic filing process for use by all candidates for state public office and all political campaign committees that are required to file statements and reports with the registry of election finance;
    2. Develop, with the advice, assistance and approval of the division of strategic technology solutions, a system that provides each candidate and campaign committee with secure access to the electronic filing system. The system shall provide safeguards against efforts to tamper or change the data in any way;
    3. Provide training to candidates and campaign committees on the use of the electronic filing system;
    4. Develop, with the advice, assistance and approval of the division of strategic technology solutions, a system that will forward a copy of any candidate's report that is filed electronically with the registry of election finance to the appropriate local county election commission; and
    5. Provide public access to a list of campaign contributions made to candidates and a list of expenditures made by those candidates by posting the lists on the Internet. In addition, the registry shall provide assistance to anyone seeking to access this information on the Internet. Beginning with the 2006 regular August election, campaign contribution lists shall be made available on the Internet after a candidate has filed the information and the registry has reviewed the statements for accuracy and timeliness. If a candidate has not timely filed campaign contribution lists, then the registry shall post on the Internet that the candidate's statement is delinquent.
  2. The registry of election finance, once the development of the electronic filing system is completed and tested, shall provide public notice that the system is operational and available for filers to commence use.
  3. The registry of election finance shall, with the advice, assistance and approval of the division of strategic technology solutions, implement the electronic filing system for use in the 2006 regular August election and all subsequent state elections. Candidates for state public offices and campaign committees may commence electronic filing for any state election beginning in the year 2006 and after notice has been given pursuant to subsection (b), and may continue to file electronically all reports for any subsequent state elections. Beginning in July 2006, candidates for state public offices and campaign committees, who have contributions or expenditures in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per reporting period, shall file electronically all reports for any subsequent state elections. Failure to timely file reports electronically may be penalized as provided in § 2-10-110.
  4. All information entered by any candidate or campaign committee into the electronic filing system shall remain confidential until the information is filed with the registry of election finance.

Acts 2003, ch. 414, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 13; 2020, ch. 690, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2020 amendment substituted “division of strategic technology solutions” for “office of information resources” three times in (a) and once in (c).

Effective Dates. Acts 2020, ch. 690, § 22, June 11, 2020.

Cross-References. Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

2-10-212. Audits and investigations of reports and statements.

  1. The registry of election finance shall conduct audits and field investigations of reports and statements filed with the registry as follows:
    1. Each gubernatorial candidate and that candidate's committees that receive at least ten percent (10%) of the vote at the general election shall be audited;
    2. Each candidate for the general assembly and such candidate's committees shall be subject to an audit by the registry on a random selection of districts in an election. Districts shall be randomly drawn until a total of approximately four percent (4%) of all candidates for the general assembly have been selected. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, for any audit conducted by the registry under this subdivision (a)(2), the registry shall only conduct the audit for the immediately preceding election cycle and shall not require the production or disclosure of, or consider for purposes of the audit, any information or documents relating to any other election cycle; and
    3. Each candidate for supreme court, court of appeals and court of criminal appeals shall be subject to an audit by the registry on a random selection. One (1) candidate from each of the supreme court, court of appeals and court of criminal appeals shall be randomly selected by the registry to be audited each election cycle.
      1. The registry shall select by lot the districts to be audited on a random basis regarding candidates for the general assembly. For judicial offices, the registry shall select by lot the names of candidates to be audited on a random basis.
      2. The selection shall be after the last date for filing the first report or statement following the general election for which the candidate ran or for which the committee donated money. The attorney general and reporter, or the attorney general's designee, shall attend the random selection to preserve the integrity of the proceeding.
    1. No audit or investigation of any candidate or candidate's committee in connection with a report or statement required by this chapter shall begin until after the last date for filing the first report or statement following the general election for the office for which the candidate ran. When the campaign statements or reports of a candidate are audited and investigated, the audit and investigation shall cover all campaign statements and reports filed for the primary and general elections and any previous campaign statement or report filed since the last election for that office, but shall exclude any statements or reports that have previously been audited.
    2. Audits of members of the general assembly shall only take place during June through December during odd-numbered years.
  2. In order to comply with an audit, candidates and campaigns shall retain copies of all checks, bank statements and vendor receipts for two (2) years after the date of the election to which the records refer.
    1. The registry shall adopt auditing guidelines and standards with guidance from the comptroller of the treasury, which shall govern audits and field investigations conducted under this section. The guidelines and standards shall be formulated to accomplish the following purposes:
      1. The audits should encourage compliance and detect violations of this chapter;
      2. The audits should be conducted with maximum efficiency in a cost-effective manner; and
      3. The audits should be as unobtrusive as possible, consistent with the purposes provided in this subdivision (d)(1).
    2. In adopting its guidelines and standards, the registry shall consider relevant guidelines and standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to the extent such guidelines and standards are applicable and consistent with the purposes set forth in this section.
  3. The detailed information received pursuant to this section for an audit shall be considered working papers of the registry of election finance and is, therefore, confidential and not an open record pursuant to title 10, chapter 7.
  4. After the completion and approval of an audit by the registry, the registry shall post any finding that could result in an assessment of significant penalties on the registry's web site, except that audits of candidates defeated in the primary election shall not be made public until after the general election.
  5. Failure to comply with an audit investigation under this section is a Class 2 offense as defined in § 2-10-110.
  6. Notwithstanding this section, any candidate running for the office of governor more than one (1) year prior to the general election may elect to do self-audits. Such audits shall be given to the registry and the registry may give the candidate a letter of compliance stating the audit is complete and acceptable.
  7. Notwithstanding this section, if any candidate files a contribution statement with more than thirty percent (30%) of the candidate's contributions reported as unitemized contributions and such contributions total more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), then the candidate's contributions shall automatically be audited by the registry.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 14; 2017, ch. 479, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that act is, and may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Amendments. The 2017 amendment, in (a)(2), substituted “four percent (4%)” for “two percent (2%)” following “approximately” and added the third sentence.

Effective Dates. Acts 2017, ch. 479, § 2. June 6, 2017.

Cross-References. Confidentiality of public records, § 10-7-504.

2-10-213. Power and authority of registry in conducting audits and hearings — Subpoenas — Contempt.

    1. For the purpose of conducting any hearing or audit as provided in this chapter, the registry has the power to administer oaths, to call any party to testify under oath at the hearings, to require the attendance of witnesses, the production of books, records, and papers, and to take the depositions of witnesses.
    2. For purposes of subdivision (a)(1), the registry is authorized to issue a subpoena for any witness or a subpoena duces tecum to compel the production of any books, records or papers. These subpoenas may be served by registered mail, return receipt requested, to the addressee's business mailing address, or by personnel of the registry, or shall be directed for service to the sheriff of the county where the witness resides or is found, or where the person in custody of any books, records, or papers resides or is found.
  1. In case of a refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person under subsection (a), any circuit or chancery court of this state within the jurisdiction in which the person refusing to obey the subpoena is found or resides may issue to the person, upon application by the registry, an order requiring the person to appear before the court to show cause why the person should not be held in contempt for refusal to obey the subpoena. Failure to obey a subpoena may be punished by the court as a contempt of court.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 15.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Cross-References. Certified mail in lieu of registered mail, § 1-3-111.

2-10-214. Required training program for members of registry.

  1. A person who is appointed to the registry of election finance may not vote, deliberate, or be counted as a member in attendance at a meeting of the registry until the person completes a training program provided by the office of the attorney general and reporter that complies with this section. This section shall not apply to members who are reappointed to the registry.
  2. The training program shall provide the person with information regarding:
    1. The legislation that created the registry;
    2. The role and function of the registry;
    3. The rules of the registry, with an emphasis on the rules that relate to disciplinary and investigatory authority;
    4. The current budget for the registry;
    5. The results of the most recent formal audit of the registry;
    6. The requirements of the campaign finance laws administered and enforced by the registry; and
    7. Any applicable policies adopted by the registry.
  3. A person appointed to the registry is entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred in attending the training program.
  4. This section shall apply prospectively to members appointed to the registry after February 15, 2006.

Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 20.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, § 1 provided that the act is and  may be cited as the “Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006.”

Part 3
Campaign Contributions Limits

2-10-301. Short title — Jurisdiction.

  1. This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Campaign Contribution Limits Act of 1995.”
  2. The registry of election finance has jurisdiction to administer and enforce this part.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 17 provided that the amendment by that act shall only apply to contributions and expenditures made after January 1, 1996.

Law Reviews.

Mistaken Identity: Unveiling the Property Characteristics of Political Money, 53 Vand. L. Rev. 1235 (2000).

The Court in Action: A summary of key cases from the U.S. Supreme Court 2000-2001 (Perry A. Craft and Arshad (Paku) Khan), 37 No. 9 Tenn. B.J. 18 (2001).

Attorney General Opinions. Constitutionality of campaign finance reform, OAG 95-058 (5/24/95).

Constitutionality under separation of powers clause, OAG 96-021 (2/16/96).

Candidate's acceptance of contributions for primary election that may not occur, OAG 97-137 (10/06/97).

The provisions regarding campaign contributions do not apply to federal elections in Tennessee, OAG 00-099 (5/24/00).

Neither the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act or the Campaign Contribution Limits Act contains any time limitation on when a multicandidate political campaign committee must support or oppose a second candidate or measure, OAG 03-112 (9/9/03).

Collateral References.

Constitutional Validity of State or Local Regulation of Contributions by or to Political Action Committees. 24 A.L.R.6th 179.

2-10-302. Contribution limits.

  1. No person shall make contributions to any candidate with respect to any election which, in the aggregate, exceed:
    1. For an office elected by statewide election, two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500); or
    2. For any other state or local public office, one thousand dollars ($1,000).
  2. No multicandidate political campaign committee shall make contributions to any candidate with respect to any election which, in the aggregate, exceed:
    1. For an office elected by statewide election or the senate, seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500); and
    2. For any other state or local public office, five thousand dollars ($5,000).
    1. With respect to contributions from multicandidate political campaign committees for each election:
      1. No candidate for an office elected by statewide election shall accept in the aggregate more than fifty percent (50%) of the candidate's total contributions from multicandidate political campaign committees; and
      2. No candidate for any other state or local public office shall accept in the aggregate more than seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) from multicandidate political campaign committees.
    2. In determining the aggregate limits established by this subsection (c), contributions made to a candidate by a committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly are not included.
    1. Each contribution limit established in subsection (a), (b) or (c) shall be adjusted to reflect the percentage of change in the average consumer price index (all items-city average), as published by the United States department of labor, bureau of labor statistics, for the period of January 1, 1996, through December 31, 2010. Each such adjustment shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of one hundred dollars ($100). The registry of election finance shall publish each such adjusted amount on its web site.
    2. On January 1, 2013, and every two (2) years thereafter, each contribution limit established in subsection (a), (b) or (c), as adjusted pursuant to subdivision (d)(1), shall be further adjusted to reflect the percentage of change in the average consumer price index (all items-city average), as published by the United States department of labor, bureau of labor statistics, for the two-year period immediately preceding. Each such adjustment under this subdivision (d)(2) shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of one hundred dollars ($100). The registry of election finance shall publish each such adjusted amount on its web site.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 2003, ch. 416, § 1; 2011, ch. 389, § 4.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 16 provides that if any provision of (c)(1) [the former provisions of (c)(1) were deleted by 2003 amendment] or (d)(1) [now (c)(1)(A)] or their application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, then the provisions and applications of (c)(1) and (d)(1) are declared to be invalid and void.

The website for the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance referenced in this section may be found at http://www.state.tn.us/tref.

Attorney General Opinions. Anonymous campaign contributions, OAG 97-065 (5/12/97).

State limits on candidate's personal campaign contributions unconstitutional, OAG 98-016 (1/15/98).

Subsection (c)'s contribution limits unconstitutional, OAG 98-016 (1/15/98).

Attribution and disclosure of post-election contribution to successful debt-free candidate, OAG 98-0122 (7/10/98).

Application of campaign finance legislation to limited liability companies, OAG 99-086 (4/8/99).

The Tennessee registry of election finance cannot constitutionally enforce the contribution limits of T.C.A. § 2-10-302(c) (deleted by 2003 amendment) on a candidate's loan to the candidate's campaign committee, OAG 01-161 (11/5/01).

Legality of campaign contributions by limited partnership, OAG 04-050 (3/23/04).

A contribution from a limited liability company or a partnership may be attributed to an individual member or partner for purposes of the contribution limits if particular facts and circumstances show the member directed the contribution through the company as a conduit or intermediary, OAG 05-003 (1/05/05).

Application of campaign finance laws to limited liability companies.  OAG 11-83, 2011 Tenn. AG LEXIS 85 (12/29/11).

2-10-303. Indirect contributions — Political action committees.

For purposes of the limitations contained in this part:

  1. Contributions made to any political campaign committee authorized by a candidate to accept contributions on the candidate's behalf shall be considered to be contributions made to such candidate;
  2. Contributions made by a political campaign committee authorized by a candidate to make expenditures on the candidate's behalf shall be considered contributions made by such candidate;
  3. All contributions made by a person, either directly or indirectly, on behalf of a particular candidate, including contributions which are in any way earmarked or otherwise directed through an intermediary or conduit to such candidate, shall be treated as contributions from such person to such candidate. The intermediary or conduit shall report the original source and the intended recipient of such contribution to the registry of election finance and to the intended recipient;
  4. All contributions made by affiliated political campaign committees shall be considered to have been made by a single committee; and
  5. Expenditures made by any person in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, the candidate's political campaign committees, or their agents, shall be considered to be a contribution to such candidate. For purposes of this subdivision (5), the financing by any person of the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials prepared by the candidate, the candidate's political campaign committees, or their authorized agents shall be considered to be an expenditure.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

Attorney General Opinions. Independent election expenditures, OAG 96-90 (7/24/96).

Application of campaign finance legislation to limited liability companies, OAG 99-086 (4/8/99).

Whether a particular organization or person is a “conduit” or “intermediary” for purposes of subsection (3) of this section will depend upon individual facts and circumstances; the Registry of Finance is empowered to apply the statute to particular facts and circumstances to determine if the Contribution Limits Act has been violated, OAG 03-112 (9/9/03).

A contribution from a limited liability company or a partnership may be attributed to an individual member or partner for purposes of the contribution limits if particular facts and circumstances show the member directed the contribution through the company as a conduit or intermediary, OAG 05-003 (1/05/05).

2-10-304. Loans.

  1. The limitations contained in this part do not apply to any loan of money by a financial institution as defined in § 45-10-102 that:
    1. Is made in accordance with applicable law and in the ordinary course of business;
    2. Is made on a basis reasonably designed to assure repayment, evidenced by a written instrument, and subject to a payment due date or amortization schedule; and
    3. Bears the usual and customary interest rate of the lending institution.
  2. An endorsement or guaranty of a loan made pursuant to subsection (a) shall be considered a contribution in the amount of the endorsement or guaranty and shall be subject to the limitations contained in this part. Where the written instrument does not specify the portion of the loan for which the endorser or guarantor is liable, each endorser or guarantor shall be considered to have made a contribution in that proportion of the unpaid balance that each endorser or guarantor bears to the total number of endorsers or guarantors.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

Attorney General Opinions. Legislator's use of personal or borrowed funds in campaign during legislative session, OAG 98-062 (3/9/98).

2-10-305. Retention or transfer of funds.

The limits contained in this part do not apply to:

  1. The retention of funds by a candidate pursuant to § 2-10-114(a)(1);
  2. The transfer of funds by a candidate pursuant to § 2-10-114(a)(1) to a campaign fund of the same candidate for election to a different state or local public office; or
  3. The transfer of funds by a candidate for election to a federal office to a campaign fund of the same candidate for election to a state or local public office.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

2-10-306. Aggregate limits — Exemptions.

  1. All contributions made by political campaign committees controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly shall be considered to have been made by a single committee. Such contributions shall not, in the aggregate, exceed:
    1. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) per election to any candidate in a statewide election;
    2. Forty thousand dollars ($40,000) per election to any candidate for the senate; and
    3. Twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per election to any candidate for any other state or local public office.
  2. For purposes of this section, “contributions” does not include:
    1. Payment of the costs of preparation, display or mailing or other distribution with respect to printed slate cards, sample ballots, or other printed listings of three (3) or more candidates who are opposed for election. This exemption does not apply to costs incurred with respect to the preparation and display of listings made on broadcasting stations or in newspapers, magazines and similar types of general public political advertising such as billboards;
    2. Payment of the costs of voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities conducted by party committees, unless the payments are made on behalf of a clearly identified candidate and the payment can be directly attributed to that candidate;
    3. Expenditures for rent, personnel, overhead, general administrative, fundraising, and other day-to-day costs of party committees, unless the expenditures are made on behalf of a clearly identified candidate and the expenditure can be directly attributed to that candidate; or
    4. Expenditures for education campaign seminars and for training of campaign workers, unless the expenditures are made on behalf of a clearly identified candidate and the expenditure can be directly attributed to that candidate.
    1. Each contribution limit established in subsection (a) shall be adjusted to reflect the percentage of change in the average consumer price index (all items-city average), as published by the United States department of labor, bureau of labor statistics, for the period of January 1, 1996, through December 31, 2010. Each such adjustment shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of one hundred dollars ($100). The registry of election finance shall publish each such adjusted amount on its web site.
    2. On January 1, 2013, and every two (2) years thereafter, each contribution limit established in subsection (a), as adjusted pursuant to subdivision (c)(1), shall be further adjusted to reflect the percentage of change in the average consumer price index (all items-city average), as published by the United States department of labor, bureau of labor statistics, for the two-year period immediately preceding. Each such adjustment under this subdivision (c)(2) shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of one hundred dollars ($100). The registry of election finance shall publish each such adjusted amount on its web site.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 2011, ch. 389, § 5.

Attorney General Opinions. Independent election expenditures, OAG 96-90 (7/24/96).

2-10-307. Violations — Return of unlawful contributions.

  1. No candidate or political campaign committee shall accept any contribution or make any expenditure in violation of this part. No officer or employee of a political campaign committee shall accept a contribution made for the benefit or use of a candidate, or make any expenditure on behalf of a candidate, in violation of any limitation imposed on contributions and expenditures under this section.
  2. In keeping with the federal law, a contribution made or accepted in excess of the limitations established by this part shall not be a violation of this part if the candidate or the political campaign committee returns or refunds the contribution to the person who made the contribution within sixty (60) days of the candidate's or committee's receipt of the contribution.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

2-10-308. Penalties.

  1. The registry of election finance may impose a maximum civil penalty for a violation of this part of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or one hundred fifteen percent (115%) of the amount of all contributions made or accepted in excess of the limitations established by this part, whichever is greater.
  2. Penalties imposed under this part shall be deposited into the state general fund.
  3. To request a waiver or reduction or in any way to contest a penalty imposed by the staff of the registry, a person shall file a petition with the registry. Such petition shall be considered as a contested case proceeding under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.
  4. If a civil penalty lawfully assessed against a candidate is not paid within thirty (30) days after the assessment becomes final, the candidate shall be ineligible to qualify for election to any state or local public office until such penalty is paid.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

2-10-309. Construction with federal law.

In determining issues arising in regard to this part, the registry may rely on the precedents established under the federal law.

Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1.

Law Reviews.

Mistaken Identity: Unveiling the Property Characteristics of Political Money, 53 Vand. L. Rev. 1235 (2000).

2-10-310. Fund raising during general assembly session.

    1. Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3), from the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, no member of the general assembly or a member's campaign committee or the governor or the governor's campaign committee shall conduct a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or member or candidate of the general assembly or governor.
      1. During such period, a member of the general assembly who is a candidate for a local public office shall be permitted to conduct fundraising events and solicit or accept contributions for such campaign for local public office only under the following conditions:
        1. Such fundraising events may be held only in the county in which such member is a candidate for local public office;
        2. Solicitations and acceptance of contributions for such purposes may only be made from individuals residing in such county;
        3. Such fundraising events shall not be held, nor contributions be solicited nor accepted, on state property;
        4. The member shall not be permitted to solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any actual or in-kind contribution during such period from a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist; and
        5. No other member of the general assembly or the campaign committee of such other member shall be permitted to solicit or accept contributions during such period for the member campaigning for local public office.
      2. It shall be unlawful for any lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist to make any contribution to such member's campaign committee during such period for any purpose.
    2. All co