MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanfordshares his point of view on voter registration laws as early voting begins.
Early voting in the Memphis municipal election isunderway. But a significant development around voting that is unrelated to thecity election is now playing out in Nashville. It involves efforts by statelawmakers to crack down on groups that register large numbers of potentialvoters.
You may recall that just before the federal Midtermelection last year, one group turned in hundreds of forms that were eitherincomplete or riddled with errors. That created a major headache for electioncommission workers who had to scramble to certify the forms. In response tothat, the Republican controlled legislature sprang into action. It passed, andGovernor Bill Lee signed into law, a bill calling for civil fines and evencriminal sanctions against groups that turn in a bunch of improper registrationforms.
The new law was to take effect October 1st.But this week, a Nashville federal judge put a preliminary stop to it. JudgeAleta Trauger, a Bill Clinton appointee, said lawmakers went overboard with thenew law, calling it a punitive regulatory scheme. She issued an injunctionpreventing the law from taking effect next month.
The message here is clear. Voter registration formsshould be filed correctly. But state lawmakers went too far and left the clearimpression 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’smy point of view.