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Early voting starts in Tennessee; long lines at many polls

October 14, 2020 GMT
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People wait in line to vote at the Brentwood Library on the first day of Tennessee's early voting Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Brentwood, Tenn. The early, in-person voting period runs Monday through Saturday until Thursday, Oct. 29. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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People wait in line to vote at the Brentwood Library on the first day of Tennessee's early voting Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Brentwood, Tenn. The early, in-person voting period runs Monday through Saturday until Thursday, Oct. 29. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Early voting started Wednesday in Tennessee for the Nov. 3 election, and polling places in Nashville, Memphis and other cities were seeing long lines of people ready to cast their ballots.

The state’s elections coordinator said several counties reported their biggest first day of early voting in recent memory, and some precincts saw voters arrive up to two hours before polls open. The in-person early voting period runs Monday through Saturday until Thursday, Oct. 29.

“If the rest of early voting goes like today did, there is no doubt that we’re going to set a record in Tennessee,” state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said in an interview Wednesday.

Additionally, Tennessee has seen a record number of registered voters at 4.4 million, Goins said. Statewide, there has generally been a strong day-one turnout, he added.

Voters can find information about early voting and Election Day voting locations on GoVoteTN app or GoVoteTN.com.

Social media posts showed long lines at early voting locations, with voters spaced apart as they observe social distancing guidelines. Nashville, for one, reported by late afternoon that it had exceeded turnout for the first day of early voting in the 2016 November election.

“We did have some lines, but those lines were not caused by technical issues,” Goins said. “Those lines were specifically caused because of voter interest.”

Tennesseans must bring a valid photo identification to vote, though it doesn’t have to be current. This includes a driver’s license, a photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security or a passport. College student IDs are not acceptable.

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Voters are encouraged to wear masks and stay six feet away from others. Poll workers will wear masks and are trained in social distancing.

If they prefer, voters who qualify to cast a mail ballot can request one until Oct. 27. However, officials are urging voters to act earlier because completed ballots must be received by mail before Election Day polls close.

The voter registration deadline for the election has passed.