No Barriers to the Ballot Box

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No Barriers to the Ballot Box 2018-08-02T09:20:49+00:00

Let People Vote bannerNo Barriers to the Ballot Box

Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Tennessee ranked fiftieth in overall voter turnout in the 2014 election. Tennesseans face significant barriers to exercising the right to vote that contribute to this low voter participation.

Tennessee’s 2011 law requiring presentation of a photo ID to vote particularly burdens senior citizens, racial and ethnic minorities, students, people with disabilities and low-income voters, who are both less likely to have the documentation required to vote, or the means to get it.

Another 2011 state law reduced early voting periods, limiting access to the ballot box.

The state has also purged hundreds of thousands of voters from the voting rolls for inactivity, a practice the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled violates the National Voter Registration Act.

Individuals can permanently lose the right to vote following a felony conviction, barring an entire group of people from voting. Many people with felony convictions who are eligible to restore their voting rights remain disenfranchised after they have completed their sentences simply because they lack the funds necessary to do so.

In addition, it’s time to modernize Tennessee’s voter registration practices to make it easier for people to register to vote.

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Take Action

Get ACLU-TN’s “Voting Rights Toolkit.” This toolkit offers you an overview of the voting rights landscape in Tennessee and actions you can take to expand voting rights in Tennessee. Particular focus is given to restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions and modernizing Tennessee’s voter registration system to improve voter participation.

You can also use this “Felony Disenfranchisement Fact Sheet” to help educate community members and decisionmakers.

Fill out the “Have You Lost Your Right to Vote Due To A Felony Conviction? Form” to find out whether or not you are eligible to restore your right to vote.

Keep us posted. Complete the “Voting Rights Toolkit Feedback Form” to let us know how your activism is going.


Position Bill Number Description Status
Support SB 1298/HB 857 Criminal Procedure – As introduced, requires the issuance of a certificate of voting rights restoration to a person who was convicted of an infamous crime in this state and received a pardon, was discharged from custody after serving or expiration of the maximum sentence imposed for the crime, or was granted a certificate of final discharge from supervision by the board of parole or county correction authority; requires the person to have paid all restitution to any victim and all court costs prior to receiving a certificate of voting rights restoration. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 29. Current Status
Support SB 1488/HB 2372 Election Laws – As introduced, lengthens voter registration period to 15 days before an election instead of 30 days before an election. – Amends TCA Title 2. Current Status
Support SB 1706/HB 1556 Election Laws – As introduced, authorizes a qualified person to register and vote on election day or update the person’s voter information and vote on election day. – Amends TCA Title 2. Current Status
Support SB 1767/HB 1777 Election Laws – As introduced, creates a process for automatic voter registration by county election commissions after a person completes an application for a driver license, photo identification license, or handgun carry permit with the department of safety. – Amends TCA Title 2 and Title 55, Chapter 50. Current Status
Support SB 1768/HB 1965 Driver Licenses – As introduced, requires department of safety to provide photo identification license free of charge to person whose driver license is revoked or suspended upon surrender of driver license or proof of surrender. – Amends TCA Section 40-24-105 and Title 55. Current Status
Support SB 1978/HB 1590 Criminal Procedure – As introduced, enables a person who has been disqualified from exercising right to vote due to felony conviction to apply for restoration of voting rights if making payments in accordance with payment plan for court costs, restitution, or overdue child support. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 29, Part 2. Current Status


SB 2090/HB 2300 Election Laws – As introduced, requires any county using direct recording electronic voting systems to have the capability to create a voter-verifiable paper audit trail for each ballot cast. – Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 9. Current Status
Support SB 2128/HB 2332 Redistricting, Legislative – As introduced, imposes public notice and public input requirements on a redistricting committee and upon consideration of a final redistricting plan. – Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 16, Part 1 and Title 3. Current Status
Support SB 2187/HB 2306 Election Laws – As introduced, provides for the registration of eligible voters upon the submission by the department of safety to the appropriate county election commission of an eligible voter’s application for a driver license or photo identification card; establishes methods by which a person may decline to be registered to vote in such a manner. – Amends TCA Title 2. Current Status
Support SB 2401/HB 2090 Election Laws – As introduced, allows a college student registering to vote by mail to vote by absentee ballot instead of in person the first time. – Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 6. Current Status
Support SB 2407/HB 2457 Election Laws – As introduced, permits the use of a photo identification card issued by this state, the United States, or an accredited postsecondary institution of education in this state for purposes of verifying the identity of an eligible voter. – Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 7. Current Status
Support SB 2439/HB 2612 Election Laws – As introduced, permits a person at least 15 years of age but not more than 18 years of age to be registered to vote upon turning 18 years of age through submittal of an application for a driver’s permit, driver license, or photo identification license with the department of safety. – Amends TCA Title 2. Current Status