MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “A step in the wrong direction.” That’s what opponents call the law that was signed Thursday by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee that fines groups for incomplete or inaccurate voter registration forms.
Frank Johnson, candidate for City Council position 2, calls the law penalizing groups for incomplete voters registration forms nothing short of voter suppression.
“That is absolutely ridiculous. You don’t fine people for making simple errors on applications. Voting is the foundation of this country’s democracy. We should not be making it harder for people to vote. We should be making it easier.”
Tennessee’s Secretary of State Tre Hargett says the law holds groups that pay employees and hold voter registration drives more accountable.
“If you’re doing a paid voter registration drive, you need to understand you haven’t helped that person register to vote whenever you don’t give us a good application.”
The law mandates training and requires forms be turned in within 10 days. Fines can be assessed against groups turning in more than one hundred incomplete or inaccurate registration forms.
Linda Phillips, Administrator of Elections for Shelby County, says the law will hopefully help avoid a registration form
“We received thousands and thousands and thousands of forms from a variety of groups. On the last day of registration we received a box of 7,000 forms.”
Terri Freeman, President of the National Civil Rights Museum, opposes the law and says it will will cripple voter registration drives like the ones held at the museum every January.
“I think this piece of legislation moves the state in the wrong direction. And honestly, the state couldn’t go much further down when it comes to voter registration. It’s already at the bottom of the pack.”
Civil rights groups have filed suit to block enforcement of the new law, which is scheduled to take effect October 1.