Davidson County Man Sues State Over Election Law Violation

Posted at 6:13 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 14:11:33-04

A Davidson County resident has filed a lawsuit against the State of Tennessee, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and Commissioner David Purkey over alleged violations of a federal election law.

The Motor Voter law says states must allow anyone applying for a driver's license to simultaneously register to vote. Joe Howard said that system failed him

"To save time I filled out the form online," Howard said. "I turned it in, along with proof of residency, and was given a temporary license which I told could also be used as my voter ID."

Howard filled out that form on Oct. 6.

Under the Motor Voter law, the DMV where Howard filled out his driver's license application should have immediately given that information to the Davidson County Election Commission, who would then mail Howard his voter registration card or request additional information.

Howard said instead, three weeks later, he was notified the election commission needed additional information. The notice came so late, voter registration had already passed. Howard initially believed would not be allowed to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

"If they're not following that properly, there could be hundreds or thousands of people in Davidson County who are not going to be able to vote in this upcoming election who wanted to and timely requested they be allowed to vote," said Gerard Stranch, an attorney representing Howard. "That could effect elections across the county and across the state."

Howard's lawsuit asked for an emergency injunction to vote in Tuesday's election.

"I had fully expected to vote in the upcoming election and being told that suddenly I wasn't going to be allowed to do that, i was sad and disappointed," Howard said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security said the department has reviewed the lawsuit and were consulting with the Attorney General.

UPDATE: Friday, a judge said Howard would be allowed to vote in the 2016 election.