From WATE: A federal lawsuit filed against the state of Tennessee says that a new law creates confusion for voters and may deter people from parti
From WATE: A federal lawsuit filed against the state of Tennessee says that a new law creates confusion for voters and may deter people from participating in primary elections.
The law took effect in May, and states that that poll workers are required to inform voters that it is illegal to vote in open primary elections without being a “bona fide” political party member.
The lawsuit was filed by the Tennessee League of Women Voters, Phil Lawson, and former Knoxville mayor Victor Ashe. Kathryn King with the League of Women Voters said the law will create confusion for voters.
“We need to be encouraging voting and not discouraging it, and this definitely falls in the discouraging category,” she said.
She also worries it may deter people all together from voting.
“If you think you’re subject to criminal charges, I think you will reconsider, and Tennessee already ranks very low in voter turnout,” she said.
The wording of the law, specifically the use of “bona fide,” is what raised concern for former Mayor Ashe.
“The issue is, what is a ‘bona fide member’? Who determines if you’re a Democrat or Republican other than you say you are? In our country, in democracy, you have the right to change your mind. You might be a Democrat one year. You may be a Republican another year,” said Ashe.
WATE legal analyst Greg Isaacs said the state constitution does not require someone to have a party affiliation in order to vote.
“Clearly, Tennesseans have an absolute right to vote and it’s ludicrous, unconstitutional, to make someone declare they’re a bona fide member of a party,” he said. “I guess my question is if you’re not bona fide, you’re ‘kind of, sort of, maybe, whatever’, but it has really opened a constitutional Pandora’s Box.”