John Prine's widow testifies about vote-by-mail in TN during pandemic

Posted at 5:06 PM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 19:47:30-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's a new voice in the ongoing effort to change Tennessee's absentee voting laws. John Prine's widow, Fiona Prine, testified in front of the TN Senate State and Local Committee via video conference Tuesday morning.

"I am a survivor of COVID-19. I experienced many of the well documented and debilitating symptoms associated with this virus but i did eventually recover. My husband John Prine wasn’t as fortunate," said Prine during her testimony.

She testified in support of temporarily changing Tennessee's laws regarding absentee ballots during the pandemic. "This is not, nor should it be, a partisan issue. This is a serious health concern and you, as our representatives, must advocate for our health, our safety and our right to participate in our American political process," said Prine.

Right now, state law requires voters to provide an excuse to get a ballot through the mail. According to Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slattery III, the fear of getting sick or getting others sick will not be accepted.

Lawmakers against the change worry the state wouldn't have enough time or resources to accept that many absentee ballots. Fiona fears that will force voters to make a difficult decision. "I am highly concerned that in November, we will force people to choose between their health and their constitutional right to vote," said Fiona Prine.

Hours after her testimony, the TN Senate State and Local Committee voted against changing absentee laws, leaving it's future on Capitol Hill uncertain. Even if lawmakers don't reach a consensus, the law could also be changed in the courts.

A Tennessee judge will hear arguments Wednesday in the case Lay v. Goins, a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Tennessee seeking to make absentee voting available to all eligible Tennessee voters during the pandemic.