General Assembly Considering ‘Tennessee Election Integrity Act’ to Regulate Outside Funding for Election Officials, Require Official Watermarking for Absentee Ballots


Big Tech and Corporate America may face more difficulty funding the elections process under the “Tennessee Election Integrity Act.” In part, the act would require funding from nongovernmental entities to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly if in session, or the Governor, House and Senate Speaker, Secretary of State, Comptroller of Treasury, and the General Assembly Treasurer. Additionally, an amendment to the act announced on Tuesday would make it more difficult to produce fraudulent absentee ballots.

In short, the amendment to the bill would require non-electronic absentee ballots to be watermarked by local election commissions. That way, county election officials could verify the validity of the ballots upon receipt. Ballots without the watermark would be discarded.

The bill, sponsored by State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) and State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), is making its way steadily through the General Assembly.

“It’s adding an election safety measure so that it’s not just a piece of paper somebody could reproduce,” said Griffey. “It’s gonna have to have this watermark on it for absentee ballots.”

Big Tech and Corporate America poured significant funding into elections processes nationwide last year. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg poured hundreds of millions into local election offices – Democratic strongholds were the main recipients. Their involvement raised widespread concern over the integrity of the election.

The original fiscal impact noted under the bill prior to the amendment said that there wouldn’t be a significant impact. State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) inquired during Tuesday’s committee hearing about the fiscal impact of requiring local election offices to add watermarks.

The chairman, State Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville), clarified that the fiscal impact was under the sweeper, meaning that it wouldn’t be considered significant.

Griffey didn’t respond to request for comment from The Tennessee Star by press time.

Both the House and Senate advanced the bill on Tuesday. It was recommended for passage by the House Local Government Committee and the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ballot Worker” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.






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8 Thoughts to “General Assembly Considering ‘Tennessee Election Integrity Act’ to Regulate Outside Funding for Election Officials, Require Official Watermarking for Absentee Ballots”

  1. Dee Nollner

    TN only mails absentee ballots upon request. Before that ballot is mailed it has been determined the voter is registered. The included return envelop has an identifying number. That is secure, if these two legislators think an additional watermark is advisable, OK, but it sounds as though they are unaware of current practices.

  2. Kitty Lenoir

    Barcodes would be good as well….

  3. 83ragtop50

    A good first step. Now if we can get a paper backup for our electronic only votes in Sumner County. My extensive career in IT causes me to understand the vulnerability of voting machines.

  4. Scott Geoffries

    Definitely like this one. The USPS has a patent in cor an electronic voting system. Pretty solid architecture. Wonder if we’ll ever start using it.

  5. Trevor

    I applaud the politicians for taking a pro-active legislation before Tennessee allows Davidson and Shelby county to steal our statewide elections! The Davidson county GOP needs to start fielding candidates for all local offices including Judges since they run as Democrats in Davidson county. People in Davidson county need to have choices in our local elections! Thank you Davidson County GOP for taking a strong stance to allow the people to vote to repeal the 34% property tax increase!

    1. Betty Lynn Duley

      Kevin, I am unaware of a stance taken by the Davidson County GOP regarding the petition against the property tax increase. Can you tell me about this? Thank you.

      1. Betty Lynn Duley

        I apologize. I was asking Trevor not Kevin.

  6. Kevin

    Kudos to Griffey and Hensley! Another Bill that is absolutely in line with what the every day Tennessean wants to see, and this Country desperately needs!

    Now we’ll see if the rest of the Republican “establishment” can pull their heads from their behinds and make it happen, without watering it down to a point of being ineffective.