Tennessee first-time voters will not have to vote in person this year due to the coronavirus, according to Fox News.
Instead of voting in person, these new voters will have access to absentee ballot options. The deadline for obtaining an absentee ballot is October 27.
In a 3-0 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel declined the state’s request to reinstate the in-person requirement while the court mulls the case.
In court documents obtained by Fox News, Judge Julia Smith Gibbons said Monday in her ruling that “given the expected increase in absentee voting in the November 2020 election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increased interest in the state’s absentee-voting procedures.”
Furthermore, Gibbons said any changes this close to Election Day would “harm the public,” Fox News said.
“Given this situation, the injury to potential voters, who have relied on communications from defendants and local election officials, is great,” she said. “Moreover, disrupting the new rules at this point poses significant risk of harm to the public interest in orderly elections. In this instance, there is no substantial harm to defendants in continuing to comply with rules they are currently following.”
The decision maintains a lower court’s order last month.
The blocked law requires first-time voters to cast a ballot in person or show ID at the local election office before voting by mail, if they qualify.
Instead, officials are requiring certain first-time voters to submit a copy of their ID during the absentee voting process.
With 14 days left until Election Day, Tennesseans have taken full advantage of the early voting process in the state. On October 14, the first day of early voting, Tennessee saw a record number of people voting.
A total of 273,325 people cast their ballot by voting early or absentee by-mail, according to a Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett press release. This number is a “91% increase from the first day of early voting in 2016 and a 120% increase over 2012.”
The early voting period in Tennessee lasts until October 29.
Tennessee witnessed another voting record broken this year as 4.4 million people registered to vote ahead of Election Day, Nashville Public Radio reported.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at email@example.com. Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2. The Associated Press contributed to this story.