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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion today in the District Court for Tennessee urging the court to rule in its favor and uphold a judge’s earlier order allowing mail-in voting for those concerned about in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly five months after the first case of the highly contagious coronavirus was diagnosed in the United States, more than 112,000 Americans and counting have died from the virus, with more than 440 Tennesseans succumbing, as well.

This preliminary injunction addresses critical issues that go above and beyond an order issued in state court in that it seeks to increase accessibility to vote-by-mail by making sure that groups can engage voters without being subject to criminal liability, and that ballots don’t get rejected for discriminatory and arbitrary signature match grounds. We also seek to ensure that the state court’s order applies to first-time voters.

“In this unprecedented time where the country faces a pandemic, Tennessee shouln’t make it harder for its citizens to vote by mail,” said Pooja Chaudhuri, associate counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Restrictions on the right to vote constitute a real and permanent injury to voters from Knoxville to Memphis and every city
in-between. The state’s criminal penalties on the unsolicited distribution of absentee ballot requests, the lack of a legal process for voters to make right any ballot that officials unilaterally reject due to signature issues  combined with significant burdens on the ability of first-time voters to vote absentee, are simply undemocratic and why we are suing Tennessee today.”

Read the filing here.