The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a resolution commending Secretary of State Tre Hargett for his leadership in protecting state voting laws and developing a plan for safely conducting elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resolution sponsor Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, and co-sponsor Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, filed House Resolution 365 following a lawsuit filed against the state seeking mail-in ballots for more than four million registered Tennessee voters. The resolution notes Davidson County Chancery Court issued a ruling on Demster v. Hargett on June 4 with a subsequent temporary injunction authorizing any registered voter who does not wish to vote in-person be eligible to request an absentee ballot by mail.
“This court’s ruling ignores evidence and disregards well-established state law that protects the security and integrity of our most important American civic duty,” Weaver said. “A separation of powers exists between our three distinct branches of state government and this ruling is an attempt to dismantle those duties and I find that very troubling.”
The General Assembly alone has the authority to enact law in Tennessee and lawmakers have spelled out very specific reasons for which mail-in ballots are authorized. State law contains no specific authorization for pandemics.
“Democrats across the country are attempting to use coronavirus to legalize ballot harvesting by eliminating the safeguards that protect the integrity of our elections,” Ragan said. “Tennessee is one of many states under legal assault.”
Tennessee law already provides several ways for registered voters over 60, or those who may be traveling, sick or disabled, to absentee vote if they desire. Data provided by the Tennessee Election Commission shows voters are in the habit of voting in person. Fewer than 2-percent of eligible Tennessee voters ever cast an absentee ballot.
“As we have asked businesses to implement protocols to safely reopen using the Tennessee Pledge, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, our coordinator of elections, and local county election administrators have taken great steps to protect the health and well-being of all who will be casting ballots in the upcoming elections,” Weaver said.