Opponents call voter registration bill a form of suppression

Posted at 7:43 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 23:39:52-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill to target voter registration organizations for hefty fines passed the state house this week and could pas through the senate next Monday.

HB1079 and SB971 would add a civil penalty of up to $10,000 if state election officials find more than 100 mistakes on the forms organizations submit.

Supporters of the bill said it's meant to protect the voting process and keep wrong registrations from being accepted.

Lt. Governor Randy McNally said the bill was created in response to surges in error riddled registrations turned in last minute in Memphis.

"It made it very difficult for them to go through and certify which forms were correct. There's a lot of information that was left off. And in some cases it looked like the forms were filled out by one person and then signed by the voter," said McNally.

However, opponents of this bill say it's voter suppression.

"We want to make sure the legislators understand that they're not going to pass legislation like this, this draconian legislation, without our voice being heard," said Timothy Hughes with Equity Alliance. " We want them to understand that they're not going to do it under cover of darkness."

Equity Alliance is an advocacy group tat focuses on encouraging minorities to vote. Hughes said this legislation is an effort to reduce those voting numbers.

"I think that it's in direct response to the efforts of coalition partners to register voters. A lot of people don't realize that Tennessee is at the bottom in the country for voter participation. We're at 44-45 in registration and 49 in voter participation. We want to do something to change those issues, change those numbers and do something about encouraging other people to be involved in the process of voter participation," he said.