Local 24 News political analyst & commentator Otis Sanford on TN voter registration laws


YESTERDAY… WE TOLD YOU HOW A FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKED THE VOTER REGISTRATION LAW IN TENNESSEE FROM STARTING OCTOBER FIRST. THE LAW TARGETS GROUPS THAT SUBMIT LARGE AMOUNTS OF INCOMPLETE REGISTRATION FORMS. TONIGHT… LOCAL 24 NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST OTIS SANFORD… SHARES HIS POINT OF VIEW ON THE JUDGE’S RULING… AND WHETHER STATE LAWMAKERS WENT TOO FAR. Otis: EARLY VOTING IN THE MEMPHIS MUNICIPAL ELECTION IS UNDERWAY. BUT A SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT AROUND VOTING THAT IS UNRELATED TO THE CITY ELECTION – IS NOW PLAYING OUT IN NASHVILLE. IT INVOLVES EFFORTS BY STATE LAWMAKERS TO CRACK DOWN ON GROUPS THAT REGISTER LARGE NUMBERS OF POTENTIAL VOTERS. YOU MAY RECALL THAT JUST BEFORE THE FEDERAL MIDTERM ELECTION LAST YEAR, ONE GROUP TURNED IN HUNDREDS OF FORMS THAT WERE EITHER INCOMPLETE OR RIDDLED WITH ERRORS. THAT CREATED A MAJOR HEADACHE FOR ELECTION COMMISSION WORKERS WHO HAD TO SCRAMBLE TO CERTIFY THE FORMS. IN RESPONSE TO THAT, THE REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED LEGISLATURE SPRANG INTO ACTION. IT PASSED – AND GOVERNOR BILL LEE SIGNED INTO LAW — A BILL CALLING FOR CIVIL FINES AND EVEN CRIMINAL SANCTIONS AGAINST GROUPS THAT TURN IN A BUNCH OF IMPROPER REGISTRATION FORMS. THE NEW LAW WAS TO TAKE EFFECT OCTOBER 1ST. BUT THIS WEEK, A NASHVILLE FEDERAL JUDGE PUT A PRELIMINARY STOP TO IT. JUDGE ALETA TRAUGER, A BILL CLINTON APPOINTEE, SAID LAWMAKERS WENT OVERBOARD WITH THE NEW LAW – CALLING IT A PUNITIVE REGULATORY SCHEME. SHE ISSUED AN INJUNCTION PREVENTING THE LAW FROM TAKING EFFECT NEXT MONTH. THE MESSAGE HERE IS CLEAR. VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS SHOULD BE FILED CORRECTLY. BUT STATE LAWMAKERS WENT TOO FAR – AND LEFT THE CLEAR IMPRESSION THAT THEY ARE TRYING SUPPRESS THE VOTE OF MOSTLY PEOPLE OF COLOR. PERHAPS THAT WASN’T THEIR INTENT. BUT IT CERTAINLY LOOKED THAT WAY. AND THAT’S MY POINT OF VIEW. I’M OTIS SANFORD, FOR LOCAL 24 NEWS.

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