Originally, most voters used the absentee method if they were planning to be out of town on election day; or, voters in the military stationed overseas or in other states would often use it to exercise their right and privilege.
As explained in the opening leg of this series, absentee balloting by mail actually appeals to a long list of people. Its benefits range from serving as an outlet for political candidates or election commission workers to cast their ballots ... to elderly or handicapped residents who can’t get to a polling place.
So how is it done?
“A registered voter may request a by-mail ballot by sending a written request to the Bradley County Election Commission,” said Fran Green, election administrator. “The request must have the voter’s signature.”
According to the Bradley County Election Commission’s website — www.bradleyelections.com — the request may be mailed or faxed to the local election commission office. Upon receipt of the request, the local election commission will mail an application for ballot to the voter. The application must be mailed back to the Election Commission and a ballot will be mailed to the voter.
It sounds like a lot of steps. To most voters, it probably is.
Green, said, voters can expedite the process. According to the ElectionCommission’s website, the voter can provide certain information in the request and this will serve as the application. If the full information is provided, the Election Commission can forward the actual application without additional steps.
Specific information needed in a voter’s request to speed up the application process includes:
1. The name of the registered voter.
2. The address of the voter’s residence.
3. The voter’s Social Security number.
4. The address to mail the ballot outside the county (this applies only when the reason for voting by mail involves the voter being outside the county during early voting and on election day).
5. The election in which the voter wishes to participate. If the election involves a primary, the political party in which the voter wishes to participate.
6. The reason the voter wishes to vote absentee.
7. The voter’s signature. (Note: If the voter is unable to sign his/her name, contact the Bradley County Election Commission Office for details).
“A request that contains this information will be treated and processed as an application for ballot, and a ballot will be mailed to the voter,” Green said.
Absentee voting requests should be mailed to: Bradley County Election Commission, 155 Broad St. N.W., Cleveland, TN 37311.
A registered voter may request an application for by-mail ballot no earlier than 90 days before the election and no later than seven days before the election. To be processed for the next election, the application must be received by the Election Commission no later than five days before the election.
In order to be counted, the ballot must be received by election day. The ballot must be returned by mail and not hand-delivered.
Deadline for requesting an absentee ballot application is July 29. Deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 5 election is Tuesday, July 6. Early voting begins July 16 and will continue through July 31. Early voting is held in the Bradley County Election Commission Office, the Bradley Square Mall and at Blythe-Bower Elementary School.
Questions about the absentee voting process, or any part of the coming election, may be directed to the local Election Commission office at 728-7115.
(Editor’s Note: The final part of this absentee voting series concludes with a closer look at voting by military personnel and by civilians residing outside the United States).