This spring, the Tennessee GOP made an egregious attack on Tennessee voters’ ability to register to vote. They passed legislation (HB 1079SB 971) to restrict the ability of organizations to help register voters. The measure created unnecessary barriers for organizations to meet in order to hold voter registration drives–and threatened the organizations with criminal and civil penalties if they failed to meet all requirements of the legislation. This was a blatant move to prevent Tennessee citizens from registering to vote. All Americans should be concerned about this type of suppressive legislation and must continue to fight against it. Tennessee needs voting-rights champions.

Tennessee Democrats also pushed for legislation to restore voting rights to certain individuals with felony records after they have served their sentences (SB 589HB 547), but the measure was deferred to the 2020 legislative session. 

Pro-voting rights legislators also advocated for establishing automatic voter registration (HB 1210HB 334SB 777HB 553SB 822), automatically pre-registering voters (SB 837HB 1002), expanding absentee voting (SB 193HB 145), creating an independent redistricting commission (HB 1409SB 935SJR 169), preventing election officials from requiring proof of citizenship if voters provide their voter registration card and ID (SB 962), implementing no-excuse absentee voting (HB 214SB 762), requiring early voting on Sundays (HB 46SB 761), expanding permissible voter IDs (HB 133SB 90). None of these measures passed due to Republican opposition.

It is clear that Tennessee will be a crucial state in the fight for voting rights as we head into 2020.