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Participating in the Aug. 6 election will look a little different in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever election officials are challenged with preserving the integrity of every vote while protecting the safety of every voter and election worker. The Wilson County Election Commission will make changes to the way you participate in the election to safeguard your vote and to protect your health and safety.

Wilson County voters can count on the dedicated poll officials at Early Voting sites and at vote centers on Election Day having been well-trained and prepared to meet the demands of this new challenge with the competence Wilson County voters are accustomed to. Poll workers in Wilson County are patriotic voters who are willing to set aside time in their busy lives to ensure that the integrity of every vote cast is protected. Before every election they are trained and are given the resources and knowledge required to provide a great voting experience for their fellow citizens.

Election Day on March 3, 2020 is a testament to their dedication and training. Poll workers and voters rose to the occasion when Wilson County was hard hit by a tornado on Election day. When the polls opened on that morning, 10 of the 18 vote centers had no power, two polling locations were lost to the storm and the Election Commission office had neither power nor phones. Plans were in place for emergencies and poll officials had been trained on what to do. With aid from Wilson Emergency Management, Tennessee Emergency Management, and many other local and state agencies the polls opened and Wilson County voters cast their votes.

The Aug. 6 Republican and Democratic Federal and State Primary and Wilson County General Election will be administered to incorporate social distancing, minimize personal contact and provide a clean, safe voting experience for our workers and voters. Procedures will be in place at all Early Voting locations as well as all the Election Day vote centers. You may see what looks like longer lines when really the voters in line are just socially distancing themselves. Poll officials will be provided with protective gear. The process of registering, marking the ballot and casting the ballot will be streamlined to minimize personal contact with equipment and poll officials. Voting may take a few minutes longer than in the past but the precautions are necessary to meet the demands of the current health situation. Voters are encouraged to wear masks, gloves or whatever other protective items they feel comfortable with.

Every election, Early Voting begins 20 days before Election Day and ends the fifth day before the election. Wilson County has five Early Voting sites open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Early Voting polls are located throughout the county to make voting easily accessible for every voter. Traditionally, Wilson County voters take great advantage of Early Voting opportunities with as many as 73% of those casting ballots early. Choosing a close location, a pretty day and a time when they are not rushed to vote has been a tremendous advantage for voters. Early Voting for the Aug. 6 election begins on July 17.

Voting on Election Day in Wilson County became more convenient than ever this year with the introduction of vote centers. Voters can cast their votes at any one of the 18 vote centers located strategically throughout the county. There are no longer assigned polling places.

Voters that are eligible to vote by mail are encouraged to visit www.wilsonelections.com for information and the forms needed to request an absentee ballot for the Aug. 6 election. The absentee request form is fillable online and should be printed, signed, mailed or emailed as an attachment or faxed to the Election Commission to be processed. Forms may also be requested by calling the Election Commission.

Whichever of the three ways Wilson County voters choose to vote this summer, they can be assured their vote and their health will be protected. The addition of procedures to address health concerns has not diminished the procedures already in place to protect the integrity of every vote cast. The Election Commission has a track record of planning for the “what ifs” regarding elections. The many challenges facing elections this year will be no different. Voters can confidently participate in Wilson County elections knowing that they will be met with a smile from a well-trained and prepared poll worker at Early Voting or on Election Day.

Participating in elections in your community is a rewarding and educational experience. You will meet new friends, neighbors, learn how elections are administered and will be part of the Wilson County election team. To learn more about how you can be involved with Wilson County elections contact the Wilson County Election Commission at 615-444-0216 or online at www.wilsonelec tions.com.

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