Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis is suing the state, claiming that he and thousands of other Tennesseans were illegally taken off voter rolls in a recent purge of old registrations. Davis filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court Monday that says state election officials broke the law by not requiring more than 70,000 voters to be notified that their registrations had been canceled. Davis decided to sue after he and his wife were turned away at the polls when they attempted to vote in the Fentress County Democratic primary last Tuesday. “We’re seeing what I believe (is) an attack on individuals’ opportunity to be able to vote,” Davis said.
Attorneys for Davis filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Nashville. The suit calls for the reinstatement of more than 70,000 voter registrations that were purged last year. It does not seek monetary damages, other than lawyers’ fees. The suit names Gov. Bill Haslam, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Mark Goins, the state election coordinator, as defendants.
Since taking office in 2009, Hargett and Goins have led efforts to remove inactive and incorrect registrations from Tennessee’s voter rolls. “Unfortunately, we live in a day where people like to sue,” Goins said. “This was not a widespread error.” Haslam said he was uncertain why he was named in the suit. The governor has no authority over the secretary of state’s office, which supervises elections and is considered part of the legislative branch.