Groups seek to block new Tennessee voter registration law

Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), right, gestures at Rep. Cameron Sezton (R-Crossville) in Nashville on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Several groups are seeking to block a new Tennessee law placing restrictions on signing up voters from going into effect, the AP’s Jonathan Mattise reports.

The law, which is presumed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, imposes penalties — both fines and misdemeanor charges — on groups  submitting too many incomplete registrations. The law  is scheduled to take effect in October

The lawsuit was filed in May on behalf of the NCAAP, The Equity Alliance, The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Democracy Nashville-Democratic Communities. They argue that while the law purportedly only targets paid groups, it’s an unclear distinctions because many use grant money and pay stipends to workers signing up voters.

“Not only does this law create hurdles that prevent us from helping our community register to vote, it intimidates our members so that they do not want to become officers of the TN NAACP or the local units because they fear criminal penalties and civil fines if they are required to carry out a civic engagement plan that includes voter registration, which they all do,”  Gloria Jean Sweet-Love, president of the  Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, wrote in a legal filing.

Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett has defended the law adding penalties as bolstering election security, noting that up to 10,000 incomplete registration collected by the Tennessee Black Voter Project were submitted in the Memphis area on the last day to submit filings. His office declined to discuss pending litigation.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro) and Sen. Ed Jackson (R-Jackson).



8 Responses to Groups seek to block new Tennessee voter registration law

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    No Tre, you don’t understand, election security is the last thing leftist groups want. In fact, election insecurity is what they want so they can place as many ineligible and notional individuals on the voting rolls as possible. Hence, the 10,000 incomplete registration forms submitted at the last minute to make thorough checking as difficult as possible which would make multiple individual voting as easy as possible. Tre, please remember the left rightly despairs that they will never be able to consistently win fair elections so they aren’t interested in fair elections, they are only interested in POWER.

  • Teddy says:

    Stuart is correct. Many people sign up with these groups and their registration never gets turned in yet they turn up to vote only to find out they aren’t eligible. These group should be held accountable. Too many of the people registering them don’t even know what they are doing. This is a good law. If you want to be certain you are registered either go to the appropriate place or register via mail like everyone else and do it right.

  • Trisha Ormond says:

    This is not a good law. Registration forms are turned in – that is what they are complaining about. If certain things are incomplete then a good faith fix would be to simplify the forms which are very confusing/very busy. But this IS NOT a law about a real problem, because this is not a fix for the so called problem – this is simply voter suppression and it is penalizing people who are doing the most noble type of work – encouraging civil engagement and registering voters. I would encourage everyone to read Margaret Renkl’s piece to become aware and informed about this and other behaviors that are contributing to Tennessee’s VERY LOW voter turn out.

  • David Collins says:

    If the government is going to penalize private groups who attempt to register people to vote then the government should be required to hold supplemental registration sites at various points in each county where the same are staffed by election commission staff to register people vote. Not everyone has transportation and can get to the election office to sign up. Not everybody drives so the motor voter method is of no benefit to them. However, it would seem to me that the sane and fair approach to this problem would be a law that would require training by the local election commission to any group who has demonstrated a problem in doing it correctly as evidenced by a large number of rejections. I don’t believe an individual should be punished for trying to assist a person becoming a registered voter. If they are doing it incorrectly–educate-don’t punish.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      It’s a game, of course. Find an infinitesimally small group who is inconvenienced by the reasonable lengths government provides to keep the registration rolls confined to those legally entitled to vote and market the grievance of the infinitesimal group so the bleeding hearts start crying and clutching their pearls while putting pressure on the government to lift what are already all too feeble and underfunded steps to keep our elections honest. I’m afraid there are some people who are simply predisposed to sympathize with the marketing of the grievance industry that the left does so well. For the rest of us, let’s insist that government make every reasonable effort to keep our elections honest as efficiently as possible without saddling the taxpayers with needless costs.

      • David Collins says:

        Stuart, Are you saying that enabling a democracy at optimum capacity is too expensive? That’s what it sounds like. Just what are these “reasonable lengths government provides”? You want a picture ID to combat a fraud (that there is no evidence this type of fraud has ever occurred in Tennessee) but your law mandates an ID available only from the Department of Safety. There are many counties that do not have a DOS office. However, there is an election commission office in every county of the state and since that office is the primary place for a person to register to vote, it makes more sense to have the election commission office issue a photo ID for each voter and the picture can be taken at the time of registration–when the registrant is standing in front of the election officials. You couldn’t get more security than that. Of course, if the purpose of the voter/photo ID is not to safeguard the purity of elections, well then, never-mind.

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  • James White says:

    Paper Ballots.

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