MEMPHIS—The NAACP Memphis Branch and Tennessee Black Voter Project won a major victory in a lawsuit against the Shelby County Tennessee Election Commission potentially affecting some 35,000 voter registration applications submitted by African-American voters.
“What happened in Tennessee yesterday is a prime example that we can prevail when underhanded voter suppression tactics are exposed for what they are; a veiled attempt to stop voters of color from voicing their right to vote. We are encouraged by the decision but will continue to monitor the situation so that all voters in the state are able to be counted,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
The temporary injunction entered in the case yesterday will allow persons whose registration applications were deemed incomplete or otherwise defective by the Shelby County Election Commission an opportunity to cure those alleged defects on or before Election Day and to vote regular ballots instead of provisional ballots.
Chancellor Jenkins of the 30th Judicial District Chancery Court ordered the Shelby County Election Commission to allow voters an opportunity to cure allegedly incomplete registration applications on or before Election Day, and, once having cured the applications, to vote regular ballots. The ruling also ordered the Election Commission to send notices to voters who submitted the allegedly incomplete forms making them aware of their right to cure and then vote regular ballots either at an early voting location or on Election Day. Chancellor Jenkins also required the Elections Commission to update the NAACP and the Tennessee Black Voter Project daily on the processing of voter registration applications and also provide a list of persons who submitted incomplete applications to those organizations so they can conduct their own outreach to the affected voters.
“This is a not only a great win for Tennessee voters, but also for the idea that equality at the ballot box is what makes our democracy real,” said NAACP General Counsel Bradford M. Berry.