Today, a bill that would chill voter registration is headed to the House floor, and it is expected to go to the Senate floor any day this week. SB0971(Jackson)/HB1079 (Rudd) seeks to impose burdensome regulations on organizations doing voter registration drives. If passed, this would create the country's most aggressive penalties for turning in incomplete forms.
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This bill puts organizations and volunteers between a rock and a hard place - if you toss out any deficient forms, you could be suppressing someone’s right to vote, but if you turn in a deficient form, you could face criminal penalties. While an amendment introduced to the bill exempts volunteer voter registration drives, the state elections coordinator, Mark Goins, testified in committee last week that it would still apply to organizations who receive grants to coordinate volunteer drives.
This legislation would have a chilling effect on any organization trying to register community members. Tennessee already has one the lowest voter registration levels in the country, we should be looking for ways to encourage voter engagement - not suppress it.
If you’re in Nashville, please join a rally at 4:30 pm TODAY outside the state capitol to make your voice heard and urge legislators to vote NO on this dangerous legislation. More information about the rally is available here.
Read more about SB0971/HB1079