Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper on Friday urged Tennessee’s Republican-led legislature to use $29 million-plus in federal money to require backup paper ballots for elections, citing concerns from national security experts that paperless systems could be vulnerable to hacking from Russia and others. Though Cooper isn’t sure how much adding a paper trail would cost, the Nashville congressman said the leftover federal Help America Vote Act money could help secure the ballots, possibly in time for the local primaries in May. Tennessee largely uses paperless machines. “We have an opportunity to improve our election system so that it cannot be hacked, so the voters have complete faith in the integrity in the system, so that democracy works well here in Tennessee,” Cooper told reporters Friday.
Articles about voting issues in Tennessee.
Pointing to Tennessee’s cellar-dwelling rankings among states when it came to 2014 mid-term elections voter participation, state House Democrats on Friday vowed to renew their push in 2018 to repeal or change GOP-passed laws they charge are aimed at depressing voter turnout. Tennessee is absolutely at the bottom,” Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, told reporters. In a news conference, Gilmore, a former chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus, blamed a 2011 law requiring would-be voters to have officially issued state or federal government-issued photo identification like a driver’s license to vote. She said it disproportionately impacts women, elderly, college students, black and Hispanic voters.
Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission Goes to Court in Ranked Choice Controversy | Memphis Daily News
Shelby County Election Commissioners are going to court to settle a conflict over ranked-choice voting. The five-member commission voted unanimously Tuesday, Dec. 12, to file suit against the state election coordinator and the city of Memphis in Davidson County Chancery Court. The purpose is to get a ruling on whether the use of RCV via a 2008 city charter amendment is valid or if a September opinion from state election coordinator Mark Goins saying there can be no use of RCV is valid. The charter referendum is binding on the election commission and so is the legal opinion from Goins.
Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips uses the planets to walk people through how ranked choice voting works. Even Pluto is included in the nine-way race, although it is no longer considered a planet. She took the example to the Memphis City Council last week, the only elected body affected by the city charter provision that would have voters rank their choices in a single-member district council race by preference. It does away with later runoff elections in races where no candidate gets a simple majority of the votes cast.
The secretary of state’s office is set to officially roll out its new online voter registration system in Tennessee. The new system is already available online but the office will officially announce it next week. The move will put the state’s voter registration into the digital age as Tennessee joins a majority of other states that have already implemented similar systems. “This system meets people where they already are: online,” Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It will improve accuracy and efficiency for voters and election officials by ensuring there are fewer errors and more accurate voter rolls.”
Tennessee: Personal Info of 650,000 Voters Discovered on Electronic Poll Book Sold on Ebay | Gizmodo
When 650 thousand Tennesseans voted in the Memphis area, they probably didn’t expect their personal information would eventually be picked apart at a hacker conference at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. … When US government workers decommission old voting equipment and auction them off to the public, they’re supposed to wipe voter information from the device’s memory. But hackers given access to an ExpressPoll-5000 electronic poll book—the kind of device used to check in voters on Election Day—have discovered the personal records of 654,517 people who voted in Shelby Country, Tennessee. It’s unclear how much of the personal information wasn’t yet public. Some of the records, viewed by Gizmodo at the Voting Village, a collection of real, used voting machines that anyone could tinker with at the DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas, include not just name, address, and birthday, but also political party, whether they voted absentee, and whether they were asked to provide identification.
Voters in Tennessee got one step closer Thursday to being able to take a selfie inside a voting booth at the next election. The Senate voted 30-0 in favor of a bill that would allow voters to take photos in a voting booth as long as they don’t take a picture of their ballot, use a flash or noise on their phones or take photos of others. The issue gained national attention last year when Justin Timberlake sparked debate over a little-known state law after he shared a selfie on Instagram that showed him casting his ballot at a church in Germantown, near Memphis.
Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission Puts New Voter Registration System First | Memphis Daily News
Before Shelby County voters get new voting machines, the elections administrator wants a new voter registration system to begin a badly needed upgrade of election technology. “Mostly, we really need a system that I don’t fear is going to crash and burn,” administrator Linda Phillips said. She and the five election commissioners are working on a request for proposals and intend to have the new voter registration system installed and working by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The election commission’s budget for the current fiscal year has $1 million available for such a system. “I really do not know,” she said of the exact cost of a new system. “The model in registration systems is moving more toward software than service. So a relatively low upfront price, but you pay an annual maintenance license fee. … I would expect it to be less than $2 million without question.
A 2015 law banning ballot box selfies does not violate Tennessee voters’ free speech rights, according to a formal opinion issued by the Tennessee attorney general. But the Memphis lawmaker who sought the opinion says he hopes to overturn the law after legislators reconvene in January. Justin Timberlake sparked debate over the little-known law in October, when he shared a selfie with 39 million-plus Instagram followers that showed him casting his ballot at the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown, near Memphis. Timberlake, who lives in California but recently bought property near Nashville, said he had no idea he was doing anything illegal.
Seizing on recent federal court decisions that have struck down voter identification laws in several southern states, Tennessee Democrats on Tuesday called for their Republican counterparts to make changes to state and federal laws. Citing decisions by federal judges in North Dakota, North Carolina and Texas, which have similar voter identification laws as Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, quoted Abraham Lincoln. “He said that government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The people cannot express their wishes unless they vote,” Cooper said, explaining that, in the aftermath of a 2007 Supreme Court decision in Indiana, several state legislatures, including ones in the South, successfully passed laws to “not only ID voters but to suppress the vote.”