(No. 1:07-cv-0027, United State District Court of Eastern Tennessee, Judge Curtis Collier)
ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorney: Chris Varner, Gearhiser, Peters, Lockaby, Cavett & Elliott, PLLC. (Direct Representation)
Plaintiffs: Ronald Teel, Leone Teel, John Thomas Layton
Defendants: Bradley County Elections Commission; Brook Thompson, Coordinator of Elections; Riley Darnell, Secretary of State; Fran Green, Administrator of Bradley County Elections Commission; Kalin Morris, Assistant Administrator of Bradley County Elections Commission
In 1998, Ronald and Leone Teel retired from a long career in public service, sold all of their real property, bought a recreational vehicle and set out on the road full time. In 2001, they decided to make Tennessee their home. They obtained a mailbox at a commercial mail forwarding service and used that address for registering their RV, paying taxes, the federal census, insurance purposes, their driver’s licenses and even to vote in Bradley County in 2004.
In 2005, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law banning the use of commercial addresses for use for election or voting purposes. As a result, the Teels and 286 others were purged from the voter registration logs and were unable to vote.
ACLU-TN filed suit to protect the voting rights of those who travel full time in their recreational vehicles. The constitutional issues involved deprivation of the fundamental right to vote, a lack of due process and a violation of the plaintiffs rights to interstate travel and to be treated the same as other more traditional voters.
In a disappointing decision, the court dismissed the case. A motion for reconsideration was denied, but in its denial the court articulated a road map of how the plaintiffs could register to vote using the parking lot of the mail forwarding service as their address.
After months of legal wrangling and a due process hearing, the Bradley County Elections Commission agreed that using the address of the parking lot of the mail forwarding service met the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act and the Teels were able to register to vote.
Retired RVers’ Right to Vote Restored in Time for November Election (September 24, 2008)
Ronald Teel, et al. v. Riley Darnell, et al. – Complaint (November 7, 2007)
Ronald Teel, et al. v. Riley Darnell, et al. – Court Case Denial (April 15, 2008)