UPDATE: Former congressman, voting rights coalition, Marine speak out on voting problems in Tennessee

7/27/2012: Tennessee election officials announced on June 19 that they would not purge any more inactive voters until after the November election. The decision was made as part of the lawsuit Representative Davis filed against the state. Both sides have requested that Judge Kevin Sharp of the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee appoint a third-party investigator to look into the alleged incomplete or missing records of 11,000 voters.

4/13/2012Efforts by the No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition to repeal Public Chapter Number 23 have unfortunately stalled. Both SB 2139 and HB 2176 died in their respective committees.

Former US Representative Lincoln Davis thought that the Tennessee Primary on March 6 would be an Election Day just like any other for him and his wife, Lynda. But that was not the case when they made it to their polling place.

Without being notified, the Davises had been purged from the rolls, which appears to have been a mistake not of their doing but on the part of elections officials. Davis continues:

The incident has raised concerns about that mistake and a host of other election issues, including:

Lack of government-issued photo IDS for those over the age of 60, the end of early voting in Davidson County ahead of the previously agreed upon date, a Nashville judge who had been denied the ability to vote by an "improperly trained" poll worker, and provisional ballot documents that gave an incorrect phone number to voters.

Photo ID in particular has galvanized Tennesseans who support voting rights. The No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition has come together in an effort to repeal Public Chapter Number 23. Also known as SB 16, this law was sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron and Representative Debra Maggart, both ALEC members.

Representative Mike Turner is championing repeal through HB 2176 (companion SB 2139), which recently passed the House State and Local Government Subcommittee. The Tennessean reporting:

“I hope that we start encouraging people to vote, because for the greatest democracy in the world, we have a very small number of people voting,” Turner told the panel. “I think this (law) discourages people to vote.”

The panel’s three Democrats were joined by Independent Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethtown and Republican Rep. Bob Ramsey of Blountville in voting for the bill. All three votes against the measure came from Republicans.

Click here for more from The Commercial Appeal.

Before the vote was taken, veteran Marine Tim Thompson testified regarding the sacrifices he and fellow servicemembers have made in order to protect our right to vote – sacrifices that he believes are undermined by the current law.

Thompson has also told his story to Rachel Maddow.



For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.

PFAW Foundation