A Tennessee court ruled Thursday that the state must give all registered voters the option to cast ballots by mail amid the pandemic.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that Tennessees current “restrictive” limits on absentee voting during the pandemic constitute “an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.”
Outside the ruling, voters in Tennessee would normally have to justify not voting in person and only certain categories of voters—such as seniors and the disabled—are eligible to cast ballots by mail.
The judicial decision, which includes a temporary injunction, only applies to elections this year and may be appealed.
State attorneys earlier argued that allowing no-excuse absentee balloting was not feasible, citing concerns that include lack of funding, as well as shortages of equipment and staff.
Lyle disagreed, writing in the ruling that “the evidence does not support” the claim that it is “impossible” to provide expanded access to vote-by-mail options.
The Republican-led Legislature and GOP Gov. Bill Lee have dismissed the idea of offering absentee ballots to all 4.1 million registered voters in Tennessee, with lawmakers voting against Democratic expansion proposals multiple times.
Rather than giving all voters a no-excuse mail-in ballot option, state election officials have recommended a pared-down version that would see preparations made for 1.4 million registered voters over 60 years old to cast their vote by mail.
The drive to expand vote-by-mail options during the pandemic has emerged as the centerpiece of a growing political fight ahead of Novembers election.
President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have challenged the idea of expanding mail balloting, arguing it is vulnerable to fraud. Democrats and voting rights groups say it is a way to protect voters from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. They say a failure to guarantee that option amid a pandemic will disenfranchise millions of Americans.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has long raised the alarm about the dangers of mail-in ballot fraud.
“Absentee ballots are the tools of choice of election fraudsters because they are voted outside the supervision of election officials, making it easier to steal, forge, or alter them, as well as to intimidate voters,” Read More From Source