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Original Author: Hemsley, Sid
Date of Material: 10/10/1994

Elections--Residency requirements

Voting in City Elections by People Who Reside Outside, But Who Own Property Inside the City

Reviewed Date: 06/16/2021
MTAS was asked whether people who reside outside, but who own property inside the City, can vote in a city's elections.

October 10, 1994

Your question is, can people who reside outside, but who own property inside the City, vote in your city's elections? In my opinion, the answer is no.

My opinion is supported by Tennessee Attorney General's Opinions No. 98 (dated February 28, 1978), unnumbered opinion dated March 22, 1979, No. 415 (dated June 2, 1981), and impliedly by No. U88-96 (dated August 30, 1988). These opinions are enclosed for your reading and use.

As the first three opinions point out, Tennessee Code Annotated, section 2-2-107(a) says:

A person shall be registered as a voter of the precinct in which he is a resident, and if provided for by municipal charter or general law, may also be registered in a municipality in which he owns real property in order to participate in that municipality's elections. [Emphasis is mine]

The your city is chartered under the general law mayor-aldermanic charter, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated, [section 6-1-101 et seq.]. I read that charter thoroughly and found no provision permitting persons residing outside, but owning property inside, the City to vote in city elections. There is no general law permitting such persons to vote in city elections. For those reasons, such persons are not allowed to vote your city's municipal elections.

As I indicated to you on the telephone, let me suggest you also clear my answer with Kathy Crisp, the Assistant Coordinator of Elections, Department of State, Suite 500, James K. Polk Building, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0309.


Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant