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