If You Register to Vote This Year, Follow Up
If you or someone you know registers to vote this year (in Tennessee you are required to submit a new voter registration form if you move or change your name), make sure you follow up in a couple of weeks to verify that your registration has been accepted.
In response to newly minted Benton County election administrator Mark Ward retroactively reviewing about 2,100 voter registration forms – some from voters who have lived and voted in the community for more than 40 years – the Tennessee State Legislature this year passed the a law that requires each county election commission to review newly-submitted voter registration forms.
The new law also provides that “no voter may be purged due to a deficient registration form once the administrator has declared the person a registered voter, unless the administrator later determines the voter knowingly made or consented to false information being placed on the registration form or failed to provide a valid signature.”
From the Dyersburg State Gazette:
The bill was sponsored in the Tennessee House of Representatives by State Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville) and State Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis). In the State Senate, the bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), Sen. Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) and Sen. Eric Stewart (D-Belvidere).
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen on May 11.
“This bill says that no one in this state can question your right to vote unless you die, move, change your name, or commit a felony,” said Odom in a press release issued from his office. “When you receive your voter card, no one can take it away.”
“Under the bill, each county election commission in Tennessee will be required to conduct inspections of newly-submitted voter registration forms at least four times each year,” reads a press release from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office on the subject. “Two election commissioners from each county – one Republican and one Democrat – will check the forms for deficiencies.”
Local commissioners are looking for discrepancies and blank entries in what they feel are vital questions on the registration form. These areas include the name, date of birth, physical address (no P.O. boxes), whether or not the voter is a U.S. citizen or has been convicted of a felony and how long the voter has been a Tennessee resident. Commissioners throughout the state are then required to report their findings to the state coordinator of elections.
There’s nothing worse than showing up to vote on election day and your name is not on the rolls. Be sure to check before you vote.