Keep Voter Registration Legal in TN: OPPOSE SB0971/HB1079

RALLY TO KEEP VOTER REGISTRATION LEGAL

Monday, April 15
4:00 p.m. CT
Tennessee State Capitol
600 Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243

Please arrive at 3:45 pm CT. We will begin the rally shortly after. We will then walk to the House Chambers to let our state legislators know to oppose HB1079 before the floor vote at 5 p.m.


Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is proposing new restrictions and penalties for voter registration drives in Tennessee.

Secretary Hargett’s proposal would create restrictive regulations and the country’s most aggressive penalties* for voter registration drives that don’t precisely follow their new regulations — up to a $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.

This kind of law would have a chilling effect on any group trying to engage Tennesseans to vote at a time when Tennessee has been in the bottom five states for voting participation in the last three presidential elections.

Although we have numerous concerns about specific provisions of the bill, we believe that, if enacted, the overall effect of the bill will be to deter third-party individuals and groups from engaging in constitutionally protected activity of helping others vote.  It is the combination of seemingly innocuous preregistration requirements such as preregistration, training, certifying that one will obey the law, providing tracking numbers for mailing of registration forms, ensuring that there are no “deficient” forms—in the context of potentially draconian criminal and civil penalties—that will have a chilling effect on voter registration drives. The bill’s text and application are overbroad, confusing, ambiguous, and worst of all needlessly intimidating. Even with Representative Rudd’s proposed amendment that exempts unpaid individuals and groups registering voters from the bill’s requirements, the bill threatens to punish community members, faith groups, and civic organizations that, in good faith, lawfully run drives that register eligible voters who otherwise would not have registered.

MEDIA COVERAGE
Huffington Post
Tennessee Lawmakers Consider Fines And Criminal Penalties For Voter Registration Drives
The TennesseanPunitive voter registration drive reform bill is voter suppression | Opinion
Times Free PressSome voter registration groups could get hit with $10,000 in civil penalties, up to a year in jail for submitting incomplete, problematic forms
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under LawCoalition of National and State Organizations Condemns Proposed Voter Suppression Measure in Tennessee
Tennessee TribuneHargett Pushing a Bad Voter Registration Bill
Talking Points MemoTN Sec Of State Pushes Bill Exposing Voter Registration Groups To Criminal Penalties

ACT NOW! On Monday, April 15th, the full House of Representatives will be voting on HB1079 (Rudd), which seeks to impose restrictive regulations on organizations and community volunteers doing voter registration drives. If passed, this would create the country’s most aggressive penalties for voter registration drives that don’t follow the new regulations – up to $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.  

At a time when our state has one of the country’s lowest voter participation rates, Tennessee should be looking for ways to encourage voter engagement – not suppress it.  Instead of fighting for reforms that actually increase voter participation, like same-day registration and automatic voter registration at the DMV, this bill would penalize voter registration drives. 

Will you take 1 minute to send a message to the committee members and urge them to keep voter registration legal in TN by voting NO on SB0971(Jackson)/HB1079(Rudd)?

Here is The Equity Alliance toolkit. It has talking points, messaging, event info on the Tuesday press conference, a link to the call to action tool to email all elected officials on the state and local committee, sample phone scripts and phone numbers for all legislators!

The Equity Alliance Joins Legislators, Matthew Charles, Advocates to Discuss New Bills that Will Restore Voting Rights to Tennesseans with Felony Convictions

NASHVILLE, TN – On Wednesday, February 13th, at 2:45 pm, lawmakers, Matthew Charles, advocates and re-entry experts will gather at the Tennessee State Capitol complex in Nashville to discuss new bills (SB 589 / HB 547) that will streamline the voting rights restoration process to Tennesseans with felony convictions who have completed their sentences.

The roundtable will feature the bill sponsors, State Senator Steven Dickerson and State Representative Michael Curcio, alongside Matthew Charles, a formerly-incarcerated activist who was recently released under the First Step Act, as well as prominent advocates and prisoner re-entry experts from The Equity Alliance, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Project Return. Over the course of the roundtable, participants will discuss the substance of the legislation, its potential to limit bureaucratic interference in the rights restoration process, and its impact on formerly incarcerated people living in Tennessee.

Currently, 320,000 Tennesseans with felony convictions, more than 8 percent of the state’s total voting age population, are disenfranchised by the onerous restoration process despite having already served their time and successfully completed their parole and/or probation.

The roundtable will be moderated by Colin Weaver, Director of State Affairs for Secure Democracy. Roundtable participants include:

  • Tennessee State Senator Steve Dickerson
  • Tennessee State Representative Michael Curcio (opening remarks)
  • Matthew Charles, formerly-incarcerated activist released from prison under the First Step Act
  • Tori Venable, State Director at Americans for Prosperity Tennessee
  • Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of ACLU of Tennessee
  • Tequila Johnson, Co-Founder and Vice President of The Equity Alliance (opening remarks)
  • Bettie Kirkland, Executive Director of Project Return

The roundtable will be open to the press and the public.

WHAT:  Roundtable on Restoring Voting Rights to Tennesseans With Felony Convictions

WHERE: Cordell Hull Building, 425 5th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243

     Room information: Conference Room 5C, 5th Floor

WHEN:  2:45 – 3:30 pm, February 13, 2019