Is Tennessee’s Law Regarding Registration of New Voters Limiting?

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger thinks so. She strongly criticized a new voter registration law, implying that it was restricting and discouraging. A bill that Gov. Bill Lee signed earlier this year includes fines for the groups that submit numerous registration forms with incomplete data. 

The new law, which should come into effect in October, caused a disturbance, and both individuals and groups filed several lawsuits against it. Although the state wanted to dismiss the lawsuits, Judge Trauger allowed them to go forward. She disapproved penalties this law would bring, explaining they could cause the “chilling effect.”

According to this law, groups that submit 100 or more forms that are lacking information will get a penalty. The fines can rise up to $10,000 if there are more than 500 incomplete forms. One of the “problematic” terms in this law bans poll watchers that are out of state.

An incomplete sign-up form is the one that lacks some important data such as a voter’s name, address, date of birth, and any other data. Administrators of elections in several counties have complained that they have received forms with not enough data or with not readable information. They consider that this law should prevent this from happening in the future and secure fair elections. 

On the other side, the registration rate of voters in Tennessee is at the lowest level in the country. According to some statistics, less than 80% of voters are registered. Also, Tennessee happens to be the first U.S. state with the law that predicts fines for groups that have too many incomplete forms. 

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