Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is proposing new restrictions and penalties for voter registration drives in Tennessee.
Secretary Hargett’s proposal would create restrictive regulations and the country’s most aggressive penalties* for voter registration drives that don’t precisely follow their new regulations — up to a $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.
This kind of law would have a chilling effect on any group trying to engage Tennesseans to vote at a time when Tennessee has been in the bottom five states for voting participation in the last three presidential elections.
Although we have numerous concerns about specific provisions of the bill, we believe that, if enacted, the overall effect of the bill will be to deter third-party individuals and groups from engaging in constitutionally protected activity of helping others vote. It is the combination of seemingly innocuous preregistration requirements such as preregistration, training, certifying that one will obey the law, providing tracking numbers for mailing of registration forms, ensuring that there are no “deficient” forms—in the context of potentially draconian criminal and civil penalties—that will have a dangerous effect on voter registration drives. The bill’s text and application are overly broad, confusing, ambiguous, and worst of all, needlessly intimidating. Even with Representative Rudd’s proposed amendment that exempts unpaid individuals and groups registering voters from the bill’s requirements, the bill threatens to punish community members, faith groups, and civic organizations that, in good faith, lawfully run drives that register eligible voters who otherwise would not have registered.
RALLY TO KEEP VOTER REGISTRATION LEGAL
Monday, April 15
4:00 p.m. CT
Tennessee State Capitol
600 Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243
Please arrive at 3:45 pm CT. We will begin the rally shortly after and then walk to the House Chambers to let our state legislators know to oppose HB1079 before the floor vote at 5 p.m.
TAKE ACTION On Monday, April 15th, the full House of Representatives will be voting on HB1079 (Rudd), which seeks to impose restrictive regulations on organizations and community volunteers doing voter registration drives. If passed, this would create the country’s most aggressive penalties for voter registration drives that don’t follow the new regulations – up to $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.
At a time when our state has one of the country’s lowest voter participation rates, Tennessee should be looking for ways to encourage voter engagement – not suppress it. Instead of fighting for reforms that actually increase voter participation, like same-day registration and automatic voter registration at the DMV, this bill would penalize voter registration drives.
Will you take 1 minute to send a message to the committee members and urge them to keep voter registration legal in TN by voting NO on SB0971(Jackson)/HB1079(Rudd)?
Huffington Post – Tennessee Lawmakers Consider Fines And Criminal Penalties For Voter Registration Drives
The Tennessean – Punitive voter registration drive reform bill is voter suppression | Opinion
Times Free Press – Some voter registration groups could get hit with $10,000 in civil penalties, up to a year in jail for submitting incomplete, problematic forms
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – Coalition of National and State Organizations Condemns Proposed Voter Suppression Measure in Tennessee
Tennessee Tribune – Hargett Pushing a Bad Voter Registration Bill
Talking Points Memo – TN Sec Of State Pushes Bill Exposing Voter Registration Groups To Criminal Penalties