The Senate passed the “Tennessee Election Integrity Act,” which requires each county election commission to put watermarks on their ballots. Electronic absentee ballots would be exempt. The act received unanimous, bipartisan support.
Under the Tennessee Election Integrity Act, each county election commission must have their watermark approved by the state coordinator of elections. None of the publicly-available sample ballots will have the watermark. Additionally, signature verification of the voter on absentee ballots will no longer be considered the final verification necessary before counting the ballots – the approved watermark will be. If an absentee ballot is rejected, the official must write “rejected” across its face and include the reason for rejection.
The sponsors on the bill were State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) and State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).
The original version of the Tennessee Election Integrity Act had nothing to do with watermarks. Instead, it addressed nongovernmental funding. If unamended, the act would’ve required elected officials’ approval for individuals, businesses, corporations, or political parties.
Those proposed regulations were advanced in another bill. While that bill originally prohibited nongovernmental funds outright, amendments softened its language to allow the funds under certain circumstances. State-level funds could be approved by the speakers of both the House and Senate; county-level funds could be approved by either the secretary of state or one of his designees. However, if the funds were purposed for items like pens, hand sanitizer, or other “nominal items,” then no approval would be necessary. That legislation passed in the Senate earlier this month, and in the House last week. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
The House is scheduled to vote on the Tennessee Election Integrity Act on Tuesday.
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