In 2018, the Tennessee Black Voter Project set out to register 55,000 voters – and ended up registering close to 90,000.
Now Secretary of State Tre Hargett has introduced a seemingly retaliatory bill which would criminalize voter registration efforts, with fines and penalties for mistakes on forms, and potential criminal punishment for registering too many people or not getting the “proper” training:
“Republican Rep. Tim Rudd’s bill HB 1079 (SB 971) calls for class A misdemeanors if, knowingly or intentionally, groups that register 100 or more people pay workers based on voter-registration quotas, don’t complete state training, or fail to ship completed voter registration forms within 10 days of registration drives or by the voter registration deadline.”
Watch the press conference with Tequila Johnson and Charlane Oliver of The Equity Alliance, Aftyn Behn of Indivisible, Reverend James Turner, Reps Gloria Johnson, Vincent Dixie, John Ray Clemmons, Bob Freeman, and State Senator Brenda Gilmore HERE:
Tequila Johnson, co-founder of the Equity Alliance says:
“This bill from Secretary of State Tre Hargett is an attack on the Tennessee Voter Project and its success.”
Tennessee regular ranks near the bottom in voter turnout, which Senator Brenda Gilmore reminds us is in no small part because of a voter suppression/voter ID bill which passed in 2008 (after Obama was elected).
Aftyn Behn of Indivisible lists the ways in which this bill seeks to criminalize voter engagement.
Charlane Oliver of Equity Alliance and Rep. Jim Cooper’s office points to all the ways the vote is suppressed in Tennessee – including by the registration form itself, and Reps. Johnson, Dixie, and Freeman all make it clear they’ll be voting against the bill, which Freeman calls an effort to “intimidate” voter registration groups.
Reverend Turner also reminds us that many people bled for the right to vote, particularly African-Americans, and that this is a step in the wrong direction.
“It seems like it’s racist. It seems like we’re going back in time.”
If you think Tennessee should be making it easier to register to vote, not harder, Holler at Secretary of State Tre Hargett HERE.