Cooper Slams State Voter Registration Bill

Mar 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) blasted a bill that advanced in the Tennessee General Assembly yesterday, which would restrict the ability of civic, religious, and campus groups to help Tennesseans register to vote. 

HB1079/SB0971, sponsored by State Representative Tim Rudd and State Senator Ed Jackson, would require individuals and organizations that are attempting to register 100 or more people to vote to adhere to new guidelines.

The House version passed the Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee yesterday and will move on to the Local Committee next week. The Senate version is expected to be heard in the State and Local Government Committee next week as well.

“As a state that has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, we shouldn't make voter registration more complicated. If paper forms are too difficult, we should offer more digital options, such as same-day registration and automatic voter registration. Or we should fix our confusing forms,” Rep. Cooper said.

The bill would subject people involved in voter registration drives to civil or criminal penalties up to $10,000 if they are out of compliance with new voter registration requirements, including a deadline by which applications must be submitted and required training through the coordinator of elections.

"More training is good, but what if the training is only offered in certain areas of the state and only on limited days?” 

Cooper also criticized conflicting voter registration information that can be confusing to voters, and the lack of training of some election officials.  

Cooper noted that punishing people who are trying to help Tennesseans do their civic duty is terrible policy, and Tennessee would be the only state in the nation to subject individuals to civil and criminal penalties.

"It's like a new poll tax.  How many jelly beans are in the jar? We have seen this movie before. This is a blatant attempt to suppress the vote further in Tennessee."