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.”Full Article: Democrats call for changes to Tennessee voter ID law.
Articles about voting issues in Tennessee.
Tennessee: NAACP says Tennessee’s voter ID law makes it harder for poor, minorities to vote | Times Free Press
Local NAACP officials say it’s getting harder for poor people and people of color to vote, and they point to Tennessee’s 2011 voter ID law as part of the problem. “This year, we determine if America is a place for everyone or a place for a few,” said City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem, who spoke at the NAACP’s State of the Vote 2016 meeting this month. “Some of the obvious things that should tell us how important voting is, is the effort to keep people from voting, like the new voting ID Laws,” Hakeem said. “We don’t want to give people looking to the past a free ride by not even going to the polls.” The website WalletHub says Tennessee’s black voters are among the least politically engaged in the nation. The website said its research showed Tennessee ranked 43rd among 48 states for black turnout.Full Article: NAACP says Tennessee's voter ID law makes it harder for poor, minorities to vote | Times Free Press.
A federal judge has ordered a halt to a vote recount on the controversial abortion measure, Amendment 1, pending an appeal by state election officials. U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp, who ordered the recount in April, issued the stay on Tuesday at the request of Tennessee election officials who are appealing his decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Sharp cited the potential price tag of a recount to Tennessee taxpayers — approximately $1 million — in issuing his order. Should the Court of Appeals overturn his order, it “raises the possibility that public money may be spent on something which turns out to be unnecessary,” Sharp wrote.Full Article: Federal judge stays abortion vote recount.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery served notice today that the state will appeal a U.S. District judge’s ruling requiring a recount on the vote in a successful 2014 state constitutional amendment that made it easier for the state Legislature to enact new abortion restrictions. “We obviously disagree with the federal court’s decision,” said Harlow B. Sumerford, Slatery’s spokesman, in a statement. “Simply put, deciding what vote is required to amend the Tennessee Constitution is a matter of state law to be determined by a Tennessee Court.” U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp on Friday ruled in a case challenging the 2014 amendment approved by a majority of Tennesseans that the method used to tabulate votes on the amendment was “fundamentally unfair” to eight Tennesseans who filed a lawsuit.Full Article: Tennessee appeals judge's ruling on abortion amendment recount | Times Free Press.
A federal judge has ordered a recount of Tennessee’s controversial 2014 abortion measure Amendment 1. U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp on Friday declared the method the state used to count votes for the amendment “fundamentally unfair” and in violation of due process and equal protection rights for voters under the U.S. Constitution. The “no” votes of the eight plaintiffs “were not accorded the same weight” as those who voted in favor of the amendment, the judge concluded. “As a remedy, the Court will order a recount of the 2014 Election solely in relation to Amendment 1, but defer ruling on the question of whether the election on Amendment 1 should be voided,” the 52-page ruling said. The ruling does not apply to three other amendments on the ballot in 2014.Full Article: Federal judge orders recount of 2014 abortion ballot vote.
The General Assembly passed legislation Tuesday that would allow Tennesseans to register to vote online. The House unanimously passed a bill that the Senate had earlier approved. The measure allows Tennesseans to go online to register to vote or update their registration records. Applicants would be directed to apply on paper if their name, date of birth or other identifying information could not be confirmed with the Department of Safety. Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who sponsored the House bill, said there would be safeguards to discourage voter fraud.Full Article: Tennessee Legislature passes online voter registration bill | Times Free Press.
Voter registration in Tennessee could enter the digital era if state lawmakers continue to advance a bill to implement a system already adopted by a majority of states. The House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow voters to register with the secretary of state over the Internet. If lawmakers approve the bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, Tennessee would join 31 other states that allow online voter registration.Full Article: Tennessee a step closer to online voter registration.
Tennessee: Knox lawmaker’s bill would eliminate early voting in special elections | Knoxville News Sentinel
Freshman Rep. Jason Zachary says the first bill he brought before the House Local Government Subcommittee would have saved Knox County $30,000 if it had been in effect when he won a special election last year. The Knoxville Republican’s bill — HB1475 — would eliminate early voting in special elections when there is only one candidate on the ballot – the situation that occurred in 2015 when Zachary was the only candidate on the special general election to replace former Rep. Ryan Haynes, who vacated the 14th House District seat to become state Republican Party chairman.Full Article: Knox lawmaker’s bill would eliminate early voting in special elections.
A federal judge in Nashville has upheld Tennessee’s voter ID law prohibiting the use of student identification cards at the polls. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Monday granted the state’s request to dismiss the case and upheld the law as constitutional. The students who brought the case in March wanted to use their school identification cards to vote and said the state denying them the ability to do that was age discrimination. Her ruling comes after four years of debate over Tennessee’s law but does not necessarily end discussion because the ruling could be appealed.Full Article: Judge dismisses TN students' voting rights case.
A lawsuit that contends age discrimination was written into Tennessee’s voter identification law because it does not allow use of student IDs has stalled as a federal judge considers whether it is a valid case. Lawyers for a group of students and those for the state disagree on how to interpret the 44-year-old constitutional amendment that lowered the voting age to 18, and what impact that has on Tennessee’s law. The students say the state law, which prohibits using student identification cards to vote, is unconstitutional. Lawyers in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office asked the federal judge to dismiss the case, saying the students did not make a valid claim and their interpretation of the amendment was wrong.Full Article: Tennessee seeks to dismiss voter ID lawsuit.
The Shelby County Election Commission spent most of today trying to figure out what caused a technical glitch that delayed tabulation and release of last night’s election results. It took until early into this morning before the count was complete. The local I-Team’s senior investigator, Jeni Diprizio, spent today trying to get to the bottom of what really went wrong. At the election commission, officials have spent Friday trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong.Full Article: Election Commission Looking Into What Happened - Story | Midsouth - Memphis | LocalMemphis | WANT, WLMT and WJKT.
Within the first week of early voting in Memphis, a couple said they had issues with their ballots. Their ballots said they lived in District 7, but they actually live in District 5. Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Robert Meyers said they learned about the issue on Friday and found those voters did in fact get the wrong ballot. “This particular incident I believe that they were very close to the line and so that just didn’t appear as clearly as perhaps we would’ve liked for it to,” Meyers said.Full Article: Election Commission On Voting Error - Story | Midsouth - Memphis | LocalMemphis | WANT, WLMT and WJKT.
The Montgomery County Election Commission will extract and store the November 2014 election results because of a pending legal challenge to the passage of Amendment 1. The State Election Commission has ordered Montgomery County – as well as all of Tennessee’s county election commissions – to extract all of the November 2014 election data, and store it that on external devices, according to a notice from the local Election Commission. The lawsuit, challenging how the state calculated the votes for Amendment 1 – a constitutional amendment giving the the Tennessee General Assembly more leeway in enacting abortion restrictions – has not yet been resolved. Thus the 2014 election data will need to be extracted and preserved to be used in the lawsuit, said Vickie Koelman, the administrator of elections.Full Article: County must store Amendment 1 election data.
Tennessee voters may have voted “Yes on 1” in the November 2014 state election, but opponents of the amendment to the state Constitution that allows the state Legislature to make laws regulating abortion have filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the votes were tabulated incorrectly. The upshot of the lawsuit is that all voting machines used in that election are sealed until the matter is decided, or until other arrangements can be made. Anderson informed the Election Commission of this at the July 13 meeting.Full Article: Voting machines sealed by state.
The Davidson County Election Commission has reinstated all early voting sites for the August Metro election. On Thursday, the election commission approved its original early voting plan. The unanimous decision was the final step in a compromise between the commission and Metro Council that ensures the 11 early voting sites stay open.Full Article: Davidson election commission reinstates early voting sites.
The chaotic status concerning Nashville’s early voting less than two months out from a critical city election has stabilized after a compromise that seemed to start with a spreadsheet from a Metro Council member. Last week, the Davidson County Election Commission voted to shut down all but one early voting site without an additional $868,000 in additional funding from the Metro Council. It created an outcry that included Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, Mayor Karl Dean and several of the seven candidates running for mayor. That’s when Bellevue-area Metro Council member Sheri Weiner stepped in late last week with her spreadsheet and some numbers that has satisfied both her fellow council members on the budget committee and the chair of the election commission.Full Article: Council member’s spreadsheet appears to end Nashville’s early voting chaos | WKRN News 2.
All 11 Nashville early voting sites are likely to be reinstated and cleared to operate next month after an apparent compromise between the Metro Council and Davidson County Election Commission has eased election officials’ concerns. A budget spat with the mayor’s office that could have resulted in the elimination of all but one early voting site appears resolved. Renewed optimism from election commission chairman Ron Buchanan comes after Metro Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Bill Pridemore has committed to an additional $283,500 in funding for the election commission as part of a substitute budget to Mayor Karl Dean’s original proposal.Full Article: Nashville early voting sites appear saved by compromise.
The Davidson County Election Commission is not flinching in a budget dispute with the mayor’s office that could result in the elimination of early voting satellite locations this election. The ball is now in the court of the Metro Council as it prepares to vote on a 2015-16 operating budget Tuesday that could decide how many early voting sites operate next month. Election commission chairman Ron Buchanan, at a commission meeting Thursday, vigorously defended the commission’s 3-2 vote last week to operate only one early voting site ahead of Nashville’s August election — the number required by state law — if the Metro Council approves Mayor Karl Dean’s recommended budget without more funding added to it.Full Article: Davidson County Election Commission digs in, defends early voting move.
“The money is just not there,” said Davidson County Election Commission chairman Ron Buchanan, who vehemently denies that the commission’s decision to gut early voting for the August election had anything to do with voter suppression. Buchanan says that the mayor’s office forgot that the commission and Metro had agreed in November to convert 12 part-time employees, who had been working full-time hours for the past couple of years, to full-time staff members, which would move the funds to pay their salaries from the poll worker budget to the commission’s recurring expenditure budget. The disputed amount is $470,000. “I think they (Metro finance department) have made a huge mistake,” Buchanan said.Full Article: Budget 'misunderstanding' endangers early voting.
Tennessee: Nashville early voting sites axed unless more funding added; mayor’s office blasts decision | Associated Press
Davidson County Election Commission has outraged officials at the Nashville mayor’s office after the panel voted that it is prepared to cut the number of early voting sites in metro Nashville’s general election from 11 to one, unless more funding is acquired. Media outlets report that the election commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to operate only one early voting site — the state’s legal minimum — if the Metro Council approves Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget without changes. Dean’s proposed operating budget is $868,000 lower than what the commission sought.Full Article: Nashville early voting sites axed unless more funding added; mayor's office blasts decision.