A plan to require paper ballots in next year’s elections is on the verge of being repealed, the latest in a series of actions taken by Republicans in the state legislature to rewrite Tennessee election laws.
State representatives are trying to reverse most of a 2008 law that called for the replacement of electronic voting machines across the state with paper ballots read by computerized scanners. The move would kill off a plan that supporters say would create a verifiable record of votes but opponents say will be costly and open to tampering.
The measure is one of several bills moving through the legislature that deal with election laws that would shorten early voting periods, toughen identification requirements and give state election officials greater discretion to investigate fraud at the local level.
Democrats say the changes will throw up unnecessary hurdles to voting that could keep voters from the polls and could open new alleys for manipulating election outcomes. “I thought the elections were going pretty well for them,” said state Rep. Mike Turner, the House Democratic Caucus chairman. “Little bit by little bit, they’re disenfranchising people’s right to vote.”