Within 30 days and with minimal debate, the Tennessee General
Assembly today swiftly passed legislation to criminalize the voter
registration process, making our state the first in the nation to
assess civil and criminal penalties on individuals and organizations
who conduct voter registration drives.
On the heels of one of the state’s most successful voter registration
campaigns aimed at registering black and brown citizens, this law
is blatantly racist and mirrors the Jim Crow-era intimidation used to
stifle decades of progress our nation and our state has made to
ensure voting rights for people of color.
As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose core mission strives
to make our democracy more inclusive, it is evident that our state
leaders want to further disenfranchise poor, black, and brown
This groundbreaking law puts handcuffs on our state’s ability to rise above our low voter participation rates, but we will find new, creative ways to continue registering voters.
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.
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.
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!
Happy Tuesday! We’d like to give a warm welcome and introduction to Kelby House Garner, Ed.D., our newest TEAm Lead for Volunteer Engagement. She will be managing operations for our Souls On The Rolls and Souls To The Polls civic engagement campaigns this year.
Dr. Kelby House Garner is a native of Brownsville, Tennessee, and has been a resident of Nashville since 1998. Dr. Garner currently serves as the Dean of Instruction for MNPS Virtual School, where she supervises all Virtual School partnerships with over 30 MNPS schools that offer virtual courses on a part-time basis. Dr. Garner also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Tennessee State University and Trevecca Nazarene University.
After graduating from John Overton High School, Dr. Garner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Tennessee State University. For several years, Garner served as an adult case manager and school counselor to individuals with mental illness. She is a graduate of Carson-Newman University having studied educational leadership, earning both an Educational Specialist and Doctor of Education Degree. She is a member of Olive Branch Church, the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and recently recognized as one of the 100 Leading African Americans in Nashville in 2018.Dr. Garner is a true servant leader with a passion for serving the community and we’re so grateful she chose to serve through The Equity Alliance!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Equity Alliance, a new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on building informed and engaged minority voters, is hosting a voter registration drive Thursday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the popular pizza spot, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria.
Patrons who register on the spot will be entered to win a free Slim and Husky’s pizza.
Capitalizing on the long wait line, volunteers from The Equity Alliance will also conduct a three-question survey asking about previous voting behavior.
“There is a culture and mentality in the African-American community of believing that one’s vote does not matter,” said Board President Charlane Oliver. “We are interested in learning what factors drive this behavior, and how can The Equity Alliance improve our efforts to change the mentality around voting as a mechanism for social change.”
Tennessee currently ranks 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration, according to nonpartisan think tank Think Tennessee.
In Tennessee, voters can be purged from the voter rolls if he or she fails to respond to notices to update their registration record over a period of two consecutive November elections. This can disproportionately lead to voter suppression in communities of color where there is a history of frequently changing addresses.
Patrons will have the opportunity to update their voter contact information during the voter drive. The event will end at sundown.
The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance is a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate policy barriers related to criminal justice reform, voting rights and public education; equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process; and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives in an effort to bring about equitable, systemic change in our communities. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.