Tennessee bill stiffens penalties on voter signup group woes

Friday, March 29, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 13

NASHVILLE (AP) — Groups that help register Tennessee voters could face fines or misdemeanors under new restrictions in a bill advancing through the Legislature.

Republican Rep. Tim Rudd's bill calls for class A misdemeanors if, knowingly or intentionally, workers are paid based on voter-signup quotas; state training isn't completed; or completed voter registration forms aren't shipped within 10 days of registration drives.

Additionally, Tennessee could fine groups submitting 100 or more deficient voter registration forms.

In support, state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins pointed to more than 10,000 Shelby County registrations on last year's deadline by the Tennessee Black Voter Project, with many filled out incorrectly.

Voting rights groups, Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper and other opponents deem the bill a voter suppression attempt. They say registration groups ranging from political parties to churches could be harmed.