by Carjamin Scott on April 19, 2019 at 10:05 p.m. CST
Tennessee has made national headlines for passing a bill in the state House last Monday that penalizes activist groups for submitting voter registration forms that have unintentional errors. Groups such as The Equity Alliance, the TN Black Voter Project, and the Memphis branch of the NAACP believe that this bill is retaliation for registering a record number of black and brown voters. Since 2016, 20 groups across the state organized in urban and rural areas, to register 90,000 new voters, most of these new voters are from poor and minority communities.
Last October, the TN Black Voter Project and the Memphis branch of the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the Shelby County election commission. The commission rejected 10,000 voter applications from the TNBVP. The lawsuit requested that the election commission “adopt and implement procedures to ensure that eligible voters who submitted timely but incomplete or deficient registration forms can cure any deficiencies” and immediately afterward vote using a regular ballot. TNVBP won the lawsuit and the Shelby County Election Commission had to send letters to the registrants with errors on their forms and extend the voter registration deadline so that those errors could be fixed.
Now, Secretary of State, Tre Hargett has introduced a voter suppression bill HB1079 and SB971 to combat activist groups that submit incomplete forms. Charlane Oliver, Co-Founder of The Equity Alliance says, ” The entire state is being punished with the most aggressive fines and penalties for doing voter registration drives. You must question the timing of this law and by their own admission is in result of forms they got from the TN Black Voter Project. Their motives for the law is driven by a fear of more people of color voting in elections.”
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Carjamin Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.