General Assembly Passes Tennessee Election Integrity Act Requiring Ballot Watermarking

After Senate passage yesterday, the House passed the “Tennessee Election Integrity Act” requiring watermarking on paper absentee ballots. Local election commissions would be required to create unique watermarks for paper absentee ballots. Additionally, election officials must write the word “rejected” and the reason for rejection across the face of a rejected ballot.

Only one individual voted against the bill – State Representative Jason Powell (D-Nashville). Powell didn’t give an explanation on the House floor hearing as to why he voted against the act. As The Tennessee Star reported on Monday, the bill received unanimous and bipartisan support in the House.

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Tennessee Senate Passes Election Integrity Act Requiring Watermarks on Ballots

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.

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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.

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