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Resolution RS2020-351

A resolution requesting Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the State Election Commission, and the Tennessee General Assembly to allow for mail-in ballots to be made available for every Tennessean for the upcoming 2020 primary and general elections.

WHEREAS, the right to vote is one of the most important rights for citizens of the United States and it is important that every American, Tennessean, and Nashvillian who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to exercise this right; and

WHEREAS, holding elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic prevents many challenges. This pandemic has changed the daily lives of individuals in Nashville and across the world. Nashville and the State of Tennessee have taken steps to flatten the curve, but social distancing will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS, while “Safer at Home” orders across the country and within Tennessee are being lifted, the gathering of large groups of people will still present a risk to the health of Nashvillians in the coming months as the 2020 election season continues. Social distancing will be difficult to maintain at polling places. Nashvillians should not have to put their health at risk by appearing in person at election sites; and

WHEREAS, a safe, secure, and simple solution to the challenges presented by social distancing during the upcoming election season is to expand who can request to vote by a mail-in ballot by authorizing mail-in ballots for every Tennessean in the upcoming elections; and

WHEREAS, individuals who currently qualify to vote absentee by-mail in Nashville can request a ballot from the Davidson County Election Commission. The request form, along with additional information, can be found at https://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission/Voters/Absentee-Voting-By-Mail.aspx; and

WHEREAS, absentee by-mail ballots can be requested between 90 and 7 days before an election. For the State and Federal Primary & County General Election to be held on August 6, 2020, the period to request an absentee ballot runs from May 8, 2020 to July 30, 2020. For the State & Federal General Election to be held on November 3, 2020, the period to request an absentee ballot runs from August 5, 2020 to October 27, 2020. All requests for absentee by-mail ballots must be submitted by mail; and

WHEREAS, other states have already taken the lead to expand vote by mail. The State of California has already provided that every registered voter will receive a mail-in ballot for the November 3 general election, in addition to other elections which were held in May. Other states including Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Utah, and West Virginia have all provided for some sort of expanded vote by mail procedures for citizens; and

WHEREAS, local governments including Milwaukee, WI, Miami-Dade County, FL, and Allegheny County, PA have also taken steps to expand vote by mail in the wake of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council requests that Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins, members of the State Election Commission and members of the Tennessee General Assembly work together to allow for mail-in ballots for all Tennesseans for the upcoming 2020 primary and general elections.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. The Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as requesting Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the State Election Commission, and the Tennessee General Assembly to allow for mail-in ballots to be made available for every Tennessean for the upcoming 2020 primary and general elections.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerk is hereby directed to send a copy of this resolution to Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins, members of the State Election Commission, and members of the Tennessee General Assembly

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s)

Emily Benedict, Russ Bradford, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara

Legislative History

Referred toRules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee

IntroducedJune 2, 2020

AdoptedJune 2, 2020

ApprovedJune 3, 2020

ByMayor Cooper's signature

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615-862-6770.

Last Modified: 06/07/2020 3:12 PM