A new bill passed in the last week may make it more difficult for new voters to register in the state of Tennessee. The bill outlines that organizations who submit voter registrations that are incomplete would receive a fine.
The fine states that if one of these organizations files over one hundred registrations incorrectly that they will receive a fine starting at $150. For organizations that file over five hundred poor applications, they can receive a fine up to $10,000.
What brings the change?
In the time before the 2018 midterm election in Tennessee, there was tens of thousands of new black and Latino voters registered. While this may sound great, thousands of these applications were disqualified for “frivolous reasons”.
Due to this situation, the bill is being passed in hopes to lower the chances of something like this happening again. Though it happens to be that most people don’t see it this way.
This is evident in the swarm of protestors that were at the State Capitol. The bill is Republican-backed, so it’s drawing a lot of negative response from Democratic voters. They claim that the bill would only discriminate against minority voters.
Currently, the turnout rate for voters in Tennessee is rather poor, and people believe that this bill will only further decrease that number. To some, it seems like the bill isn’t going to be doing any good for the state overall.
Though this isn’t what Republicans are saying about the bill.
“We want every eligible Tennessean to vote, and voter registration must be done responsibly and in a manner that does not compromise the security or integrity of elections,” said the Republican secretary of state, Tre Hargett.
This bill is one amongst many across the country that have actually made voting harder in the last few years. In the last nine years, 25 states have made new rules and regulations. Ranging from required photo identification to cutting back on early voting periods, there’s quite a few new rules put into place.
Many Tennessee residents are not having this though. People are still in protest over the bill being passed.
“We’re prepared to keep fighting,” said Charlane Oliver, co-founder of Equity Alliance, a Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that encourages African-Americans to get involved in the voting process.
People who are apart of organizations and groups who register voters are feeling especially targeted through this. They feel as if the bill is meant to scare them, and it’s doing its job.
“It’s clearly intended to have a chilling effect on voting efforts across Tennessee,” John Ray Clemmons, a Democratic state representative said.
The mindset of some Democrats is that while it is wrong for organizations and groups that seek out new voters to submit applications that may be partially complete, it still isn’t right to fine them for doing an important job.
“It’s totally wrong to penalize people for doing one of the most democratic acts in this nation — registering voters,” said Oliver.