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Need to Know: Last day to request an absentee ballot for upcoming election

The 2020 election year is underway, here's what you need to know as you head to the polls.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Early voting began two weeks ago in Tennessee's general election, and according to the Knox County Election Commission 2,541 people showed up for the first day of voting in the county. 

The commission says it also received 2,149 absentee ballots so far.

That brings the total number of votes cast in the election thus far to 4,760.

The breakdown by party is pretty even. 2,468 votes were cast in the Republican Primary and 2,149 votes were cast in the Democratic Primary. 143 voters chose to vote in only the County General Election.  

Below, read what you need to know before you head to the polls to vote in the County General Election and Federal, State-Primary. 

KNOX COUNTY PAPER BALLOTS:

The year 2020 has brought a lot of changes and that includes some for Knox County voters.

When voters walk through the doors, they will notice a completely different voting procedure.

Instead of machines, a paper ballot system will be in place.

"Voters are going to see something different," said Chris David Knox County election commission administrator. "They're going to see a system where instead of voting on the machine with the wheel you're going to be voting on a piece of paper using a black or blue ink pen and you can bring your pen yourself. we encourage voters to wear masks they're not required to vote but we courage that."

This will allow voters to cast their votes without pushing any buttons or spinning the wheel, meaning a cleaner, less contact way to vote.

Here's how it works:

1. CHECK-IN: Show your ID or registration card and be handed a ballot

2. BALLOT: you'll take the ballot to a table and fill it out. You will want to fill in the entire box. Make sure to do this properly so the machine can scan it.

3. VOTE: Then you'll run the ballot through a scanner. If something isn't filled out right, the scanner will let you know. 

Credit: Knox County Election Commission
Courtesy: Knox County Election Commission

The new process takes around 4 to 5 minutes. Keep in mind, your voting experience might be a little bit slower adjusting to the changes and social distancing measures in place.

Polls open at 10 a.m.

RELATED: Knox Co. looking for Aug. 6 election workers

RELATED: Tennessee officials want mail voting appeal fast-tracked

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RELATED: 'It's been chaotic' | Knox County implements new voting system amid presidential year, pandemic

ABSENTEE BALLOT:

If you're not able to make it to the polls in person for a special reason, you can get an absentee ballot. 

To obtain one, simply contact your county's election commission and fill out the necessary request form. For people in Knox County, you can find the request form at this link, which needs to be filed by July 30.

Normally there are specific eligibility requirements for this type of ballot. Such as being: 60 years or older, a full-time student in a different county, a voter with a disability, serving in the military overseas.

New this year, if you feel it is unreasonable or impossible to vote in-person due to the COVID-19 situation, you can also fill out a ballot.

In Knox County, the election commission has seen a huge amount of interest in absentee ballots. Normally, they get about 1,000 for an election like this and are already seeing 9,000.

"It's unprecedented in terms of absentee ballot request," said Davis. We are still getting those in and trying to get them out as fast as possible. We want to make sure we get it right. If someone's interested they can call our office and start that process."

Remember, absentee ballots have to be mailed back and received on election day to count.

RELATED: Knox Co. looking for Aug. 6 election workers

RELATED: Judge orders Tennessee to offer vote-by-mail option to all 4.1 million registered voters due to coronavirus pandemic

DATES TO KNOW:

-July 30 - last day to request an absentee ballot

-August 1 - Last day of early voting

-August 6 - Election Day