Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that fear of catching COVID-19 is not reason enough to vote by mail in the coming elections.
“I think that what we want to do in this state is remove the reason to have fear about going to the polling booths. We have worked really really hard to set up businesses in a way that people can feel safe to go into them, and we’re going to do the same thing with our elections,” Lee said at a press conference Tuesday.
“I talked with the Secretary of State [Tre Hargett]. They have outlined a framework for that. They will be working over the coming months to make sure that we expand the places, the numbers and places with which people can early vote, which will allow for less and less folks at a particular polling place [and] at the same time, make Personal Protective Equipment available, social distancing appropriately, so we want to make it safe for people to get out there and vote.”
As The Tennessee Star reported last week, two legal organizations filed a lawsuit against Hargett in an effort to overturn what they call Tennessee’s “unconstitutional” restrictions on absentee voting.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Campaign Legal Center. The two groups filed the complaint on behalf of several Tennessee organizations “whose many members are not eligible for vote by mail under current law.”
The lawsuit takes issue with three provisions in Tennessee’s election laws, including the excuse requirement for absentee voting, criminal restrictions on helping people obtain absentee ballots, and the authority of election judges to reject absentee ballots if a voter’s signature on their ballot doesn’t match the signature on their voter registration form.
The complaint asks the courts to declare all three of these provisions unconstitutional for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
– – –