Tuesday, September 3, 2019

ACLU Moves to Stop State Voter Registration Law From Taking Effect

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 12:24 PM

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee filed for an emergency injunction Friday in an attempt to stop a state law that places substantial requirements on voter registration efforts from going into effect.


The law, signed by Governor Bill Lee in May, mandates a slew of requirements for those participating in voter registration efforts and penalties for those who don’t comply. It is set to take effect on October 1st.


Some of the requirements of the law include providing the coordinator of elections with information about any voter drive prior to holding it, completing a training session, and filing a sworn statement stating an intention to obey the laws and procedures pertaining to the process.

The law also creates civil and criminal penalties to groups or individuals who turn in more than 100 “deficient filings.” Groups opposing the law have said it would place “strict, unnecessary, and irrational restrictions” on community-based voter registration efforts.

Soon after the law was passed, the ACLU, along with the Campaign Legal Center and Fair Elections Center filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, the American Muslim Advisory Council, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Rock the Vote, Spread the Vote, Central Labor Council, and HeadCount.


The ongoing lawsuit, League of Women Voters of Tennessee v. Hargett, argues that the law violates the freedoms of speech, association, due process, and “the fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”


Now, the ACLU is trying to stop the law from going into effect by filing a motion for a preliminary injunction. If granted, the injunction would prohibit the state from penalizing those participating in voter registration who don’t meet all the requirements of the new law. Read the full motion for injunction below. 


“Civic-minded groups like our clients should be able to help community members register to vote without the threat of being charged with a crime or slapped with an exorbitant fine,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “While this case works its way through the system and we prove in court why this law is unfair and unconstitutional, our clients should be able to help as many Tennesseans as they can gain access to the ballot box.”


Tuesday (today) is the last day to register to vote to participate in the upcoming city elections, set for Thursday, October 3rd. Voters can register one of three ways: online, via mail, or in person. Find more information on how to register here


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