National Voter Advocacy Groups Go To Court Over New Tennessee Law | Nashville Public Radio

National Voter Advocacy Groups Go To Court Over New Tennessee Law

May 9, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union, Rock The Vote, and several other groups filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the state of Tennessee of violating voter rights.

This is the second legal challenge to a slew of new guidelines and penalties for groups that put on voter registration drives. Last week, the NAACP sued right after Gov. Bill Lee signed the new rules into law. 

Among them: requiring mandatory training for voter registration groups, a 10-day turnaround on when they have to turn in the forms they collect, disclaimer language they have to make whenever they communicate with the public, and a fine of up to $10,000 if they submit more than 500 incomplete forms.

A group submitting more than 100 incomplete forms could be fined a lesser amount.

The groups filing the latest lawsuit call the requirements "vague and overbroad." Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, argues they create an unnecessary burden.

"If the right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, and something we say proudly, then so too are voter registration drives," she said.

The new rules were supported by Tennessee's secretary of state and elections coordinator, after groups filed thousands of incomplete registration forms before the 2018 midterms. Opponents say the new law targets minority communities, where many of those voter drives took place.