Tennessee bill penalizes paid voter signup groups' problems

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

NASHVILLE (AP) — Legislation backed by Tennessee Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett has been amended to provide for fines or misdemeanors only if voter registration groups violating the proposal's new restrictions pay their workers.

Hargett contended Thursday the change will encourage well-intended civic groups.

Democrats offered opposition. Rep. Yusuf Hakeem said the bill invites voter suppression.

The 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 registration forms aren't shipped within 10 days of registration drives or by the deadline.

Tennessee could fine groups submitting 100-plus deficient voter registration forms.

State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has lamented the 10,000 Shelby County registrations, many filled out incorrectly, submitted on last year's deadline by the Tennessee Black Voter Project.