Tennessee Supreme Court Refuses to Block Ruling Requiring State to Allow Absentee Voting for All Eligible Voters During COVID-19

June 24, 2020

Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 347-514-3984, isarda-sorensen@aclu.org
Lindsay Kee, ACLU of Tennessee, 615-320-7142

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to block a ruling ordering the state to comply with a June 4 order that required it to make absentee voting available to every eligible voter for all elections in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Tennessee, and Dechert LLP had successfully secured a preliminary injunction so Tennesseans could protect their health and participate in their democracy during the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19 crisis.

The ruling today means that earlier decision remains intact as the challenge awaits review by the state Supreme Court.

“This decision means people can continue requesting and voting absentee while the appeal is pending. Once again, the courts have recognized that no one should be forced to choose between their health and their vote. This is a big victory for voters in Tennessee,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

The case was brought on behalf of several Tennesseans whose health would be at risk if forced to vote in person while COVID-19 is spreading.

“This ruling is a win for Tennessee voters, who can now continue to request absentee ballots and vote by mail while our lawsuit proceeds,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “This decision allows voters to decide for themselves how to safely cast their votes.”

The lawsuit, Lay v. Goins, was filed in Chancery Court/Davidson County in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ruling: https://aclu-co.org/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Lay-v-Goins-Rule-7-Stay-Denied.pdf

Case details: https://www.aclu.org/cases/lay-v-goins