A sample voting machine is displayed at the Election Commission office. Early voting runs from Oct. 14-29.

Early voting kicked off this week for the November election and with higher than normal turnout expected, voters are urged to take advantage of the opportunity.

Tennessee’s early voting period began Wednesday, Oct. 14 and runs through Thursday, Oct. 29. In Trousdale County, early voting is conducted at the Election Commission office at 214 Broadway.

Hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturday.

Absentee voting by mail is available to those who meet the required criteria as determined by state law. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 27. Anyone wishing to do so should contact Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton at 615-374-2712 to determine if they qualify. According to the absentee ballot application, those who have underlying medical conditions or care for someone with such conditions that in their determination makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 can qualify to vote by mail.

Paxton told The Vidette his office had already seen an increased number in requests for absentee ballots, just as was the case in August’s election.

“We have a larger number than is normal for us,” Paxton said.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees elections, is scheduled to visit Trousdale County on Saturday to observe early voting procedures here.

“The Secretary is planning on coming to visit us at 11 a.m. on Oct. 17. He’s visiting lots of different voting sites,” Paxton said. “He’s going to see how we’re doing.”

In addition to the presidential race, an open U.S. Senate seat is on the ballot featuring Democrat Marquita Bradshaw, Republican Bill Hagerty and nine independent candidates. U.S. Rep. John Rose, a Republican, is seeking a second term against Democrat Christopher Finley and independent Christopher Monday, State Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) is facing independent John Gentry and State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) is facing independent Paddy Sizemore.

In Trousdale County’s 4th District, a County Commission seat will be filled by either Clyde Mansfield or Lonnie Taylor. That seat came open earlier this year after the resignation of Grace Thomas.

During early voting and on Election Day, Tennesseans are encouraged to do their part. This includes wearing a face covering and maintaining a six-foot distance from poll officials and other voters. Voters should expect to see signs with further safety instructions at their polling locations. All poll officials will be wearing face coverings and will be trained to social distancing measures.

Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid photo identification with them to the polls. A driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, by Tennessee state government or by the federal government are acceptable even if they are expired. College student IDs are not acceptable.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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