Voting should be simple. In 2016, Tennessee had the 2nd lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation. In 2014, it was even worse – we were ranked dead last.
In the last decade, 52,000 voter registrations have been purged from Knox County alone.
Our state legislature continues to pass laws that make it harder – not easier – to vote. Rules that require exact name matches, criminalize volunteers registering voters, eliminate federal preclearance, or add unnecessary & burdensome steps to voting & registration should be called what they are – voter suppression. Around here, voter suppression is an art form.
Voting should be simple. It shouldn’t require a rulebook or a lawyer. That’s why I support the “For the People” Act (HR 1), which:
- Establishes same-day voter registration
- Enacts automatic voter registration
- Makes it possible to prosecute those who purposefully mislead voters
- Online voter registration
- Make election day a federal holiday, and more.
Another reason I support the For the People Act (HR 1) is because it expands early voting options across the country. The biggest county in my district, Knox County, has some of the best & most robust early voting rules in the country. It’s time we showed the rest of America how it’s done.
I am also deeply saddened by the loss of John Lewis. He was a Civil Rights icon, an American hero, and a lifelong advocate for voting rights. He will be deeply missed. We must pass the John Lewis Voting Acts in his honor, which my Congressman voted against.
Next, our voting systems also need to be secure & free from the potential of foreign interference. Americans should be confident in their election results. In this election, Knox County has secured our voting systems by ensuring each vote has a paper backup. It’s time we expanded that across the country too.
Finally, we need to ensure that voting is safe. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over. Every voter – whether they are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent – should have the option to cast their ballot without risking their life. Each precinct must also follow strict sanitizing & social distancing practices.
Previously, Tennessee had one of the most restrictive vote-by-mail requirements in the country, until a judge ruled that the state government must allow all voters to vote-by-mail if they choose.
Tennessee now joins the rest of the nation with expanded options for vote-by-mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it shouldn’t take a global pandemic to expand voting rights – Congress needs to act to codify expanded Vote-by-Mail rules permanently.