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Fri May 3, 2019, 05:35 AM

Voter registration groups sue to block Tennessee law with tough penalties for signup mistakes

Source: Washington Post

Voter registration groups sue to block Tennessee law with tough penalties for signup mistakes

By Tim Elfrink May 3 at 1:58 AM

To Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), the bill he signed Thursday that threatens voter registration groups with criminal charges and fines over incomplete forms and missed deadlines is simply about creating “elections with integrity.”

Voting rights advocates, however, argue the law’s true purpose is keeping new voters, particularly African Americans and other minorities who have signed up in droves since 2016, away from the polls in a state with one of the lowest registration rates in the nation.

A coalition of those groups sued hours after Lee put his signature onto the bill, arguing that it violates the First Amendment through a web of unclear new regulations.

“This law comes on the heels of a historic efforts to reach people not yet registered to vote in Tennessee, including African Americans,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told The Washington Post. “This will no doubt chill the efforts of those organizations working to get more people registered.”

The bill was proposed after a group called the Tennessee Black Voter Project turned in more than 36,000 new registrations in Shelby County, where Memphis is located, last October just before early voting began in the midterm elections. The state threw out more than half those forms, claiming they were incomplete or otherwise flawed — a move that prompted a lawsuit and claims of voter suppression.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/03/voter-registration-groups-sue-block-tennessee-law-with-tough-penalties-signup-mistakes/

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