The number of people filing voter registration applications has surged dramatically in Shelby County, yet county officials have deemed 55 percent of them invalid, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“A large share of the influx of voter registration applications has been duplicates of already-registered voters, incomplete applications, and applications from felons who can’t vote or are otherwise unable to be processed,” according to the paper.
Shelby County Election Commission Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips told the paper she typically gets 10,000 forms in a mid-year election cycle. Since August, though, her office has received 30,000 applications.
“The Tennessee Black Voter Project has submitted the most – nearly 9,000, as of Friday,” the paper reported.
“The Tennessee Black Voter Project worked with five local organizations, including Rise Up North Memphis and Up the Vote 901, to ramp up voter registration this election cycle.”
The statewide organization, based in Nashville, had earlier announced plans to register 55,000 Tennessee voters before the Oct. 9 deadline.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) weighed in on the matter in a press release Friday, and he didn’t seem pleased about the situation.
“When an election commission tells you that the majority of voter registration applications it has received are invalid, that begs serious questions,” Cohen said.
“Our nation has an ugly history of voter suppression, especially when it comes to African American voters, and we need to ensure that voting rights are protected.”
Cohen demanded county officials ensure all applications get processed before early voting begins on Oct. 17, according to his press release.
“What is the Commission doing, if anything, to inform eligible citizens, whose applications are incomplete, what is required for them to complete their applications?” Cohen asked.
“What is the Commission doing, if anything, to inform felons who have filed applications to vote, and who are eligible to have their voting rights restored? What is required for them restore their voting rights and complete an application to vote?”
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