The Tennessee Black Voter Project wants to inspect voter registration forms that members of the Shelby County Election Commission rejected.
As reported, the election commission rejected many applications because some were duplicates of already-registered voters. Other applications were incomplete. Felons who cannot vote filed other applications.
But Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips told The Tennessee Star it’s unlikely members of the Tennessee Black Voter Project can access the forms right now.
“One of the problems with that is, of course, in some senses everything we have is a public record, except there are these Social Security numbers on the forms, and they have to be redacted,” Phillips said.
“They are more than welcome to inspect the forms, but they have to wait until we have time to redact the Social Security numbers, which is not something we can do during an early voting period of this election.”
According to The Associated Press, members of the Tennessee Black Voter Project filed a lawsuit Monday asking to see the rejected voter registration forms. They and other groups submitted more than 36,000 registrations. The commission, however, said about 55 percent of them were invalid.
Phillips, however, defended the detailed process her staff uses in an interview with The Star.
“I don’t think we made mistakes processing them, no,” Phillips said.
Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson told the AP this week that workers are still going through applications.
“Thompson said the Black Voter Project delivered 10,000 applications on the last day of registration, which surprised the commission. One person registered to vote 22 times in the same day,” according to the AP.
“Thompson said workers have ‘wasted a lot of time’ going through the incomplete forms,” the news outlet went on to say.
As The Star reported this week, members of 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.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) weighed in on the matter in a press release last week, and he didn’t seem pleased.
“When an election commission tells you that the majority of voter registration applications it has received are invalid, that begs serious questions,” Cohen said.
Cohen demanded county officials ensure all applications get processed before early voting begins Wednesday, according to his press release.
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