TN GOP Nixes Voting by Mail for Newly Registered Disabled, Elderly, Military

Conservatives on the House Local Committee killed a measure that would allow Tennesseans who qualify to vote by mail to do so immediately after receiving a voter registration card.

There are 14 qualifications in Tennessee for a voter to be eligible for absentee voting by mail, such as: voter is over 60 years old; voter is physically disabled or ill; or voter is a member of the military.

Under current law, those who qualify to vote absentee by mail must first vote in person. That rule could create issues for many new Tennesseans or newly eligible voters.

Hypothetically, if an 19-year-old Tennessean, who registered to vote, joined the military and was placed out of state before participating in an election, the 19-year-old would not be allowed to vote by mail. Or if a home-ridden person moved to Tennessee, the same result would apply.

Backstory

Interestingly, this bill passed the very same committee in March and was moved to the House Calendar and Rules Committee, which schedules the floor votes for the House of Representatives.

When Rep. Love presented the legislation to the Calendar and Rules Committee, the committee chairman Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14, opened the discussion by addressing House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin. Casada quickly re-directed to Rep. Love and inferred that they had spoken about an amendment.

Watch the video

So rather than getting scheduled for a floor vote, Rep. Love offered, seemingly at the behest of Speaker Casada, to move the bill back to House Local Committee to attach an amendment prohibiting college IDs as a valid voter ID — which is already state law.

On April 10 in the Local Committee, Rep. Love thanked committee members and Speaker Casada for allowing him to get the legislation in “proper form.”

While there is no smoking gun where Speaker Casada says he opposed the bill, the parliamentary procedure he appears to have orchestrated killed the bill.

How they voted: House Local Committee, April 10
Representatives voting against the bill (voice vote):
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34

Democratic members of the committee signaled support for the bill.

Any member may ask the clerk to record their opposition vote when voice votes prevail.

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