Quantcast
Connect with us

Thousands in US South may not be able to cast ballots in early voting

Published

on

Thousands of voters in Tennessee were at risk of being blocked from casting regular ballots when early voting opened this week, as officials struggled to process a surge of new registrations ahead of Nov. 6 elections to determine control of the U.S. Congress.

The delay disproportionately affected the area around Memphis, a majority African-American city, leading activists to charge the Republican-controlled state government has not done enough to protect the rights of young and minority voters.

ADVERTISEMENT

State officials, however, said they were simply struggling to keep up with a surge in paperwork ahead of Election Day.

But young and minority voters could very well tip the U.S. Senate election between Democratic former governor Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn.

Democrats view that matchup as one of their few chances to pick up the two additional seats in the U.S. Senate they would need to take a majority and more effectively oppose President Donald Trump’s agenda, though recent polls show Blackburn ahead.

Similar concerns about slow or blocked registrations for new voters have been made in a number of states, including Georgia and Texas.

“These disputed registrations have been disproportionately in communities of color,” said Earle Fisher, a Memphis voter registration activist. “It reeks of voter suppression.”

ADVERTISEMENT

‘UNPRECEDENTED’ INTEREST
In Shelby County, officials had yet to process 4,000 voter registration applications when early-voting polls opened on Wednesday, elections administrator Linda Phillips said.

About 20,000 registration applications turned in by the nonpartisan Tennessee Black Voter Project were deemed problematic, leading the organization to sue the county.

Shelby County residents filed 59,000 new registrations between June and the state’s Oct. 9 deadline, overwhelming officials, Phillips said, adding: “This is an unprecedented number of new registrations before a midterm election.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The county – Tennessee’s most Democratic and most heavily minority county – was also disproportionately affected by the state’s effort to purge inactive voters from its rolls.

Of 170,000 names removed in 2017 for inactivity, 25,000 of those were in Shelby County.

ADVERTISEMENT

The county has staffed up an election hotline to help process registration for voters whose names do not appear on the rolls. Officials are also trying to call registrants whose applications are deemed as confusing, repetitive or deficient.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, said registration surged throughout the state, but only Shelby County had applications yet to process and so many that were duplicative or incomplete.

“I saw a form yesterday that had a first initial on it and that was it,” he said. “If I put down just my first initial, how could you find me?”

ADVERTISEMENT

Those whose names are not reflected at the polls can cast provisional ballots, which will be counted if their registrations are found to be acceptable, he said.

Tennessee is not the only state seeing registration fights.

In Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams aims to become the first African-American woman governor in U.S. history, voting rights groups have sued her Republican rival Secretary of State Brian Kemp, saying his office had inappropriately stopped processing more than 50,000 voter registration applications, many from black voters.

In Texas, where Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, about 2,400 registration forms filed by an online service have been declared invalid, according to vote.org.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said online voting is not allowed in Texas and that the state had notified four counties that registration forms filed by the organization were disallowed because they used digital signatures rather than hand-written ones.

And in the Republican-leaning Florida Panhandle, state officials are scrambling to ensure that people whose communities were destroyed by Hurricane Michael would be able to vote.

Voting rights activists contended that many of the fights over voters’ registrations were intended block new minority voters and tip in favor of Republicans closely contested races.

“This is the South,” said Democratic strategist Lisa Quigley. “This is how it’s done.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; editing by Scott Malone and G Crosse


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP officials admit 2020 platform is basically whatever’s on Trump’s Twitter account

Published

on

President Donald Trump has shaped the Republican Party into his own image in less than four years on the job, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.

Nearly half of the House Republicans on the job when Trump took office in 2017 have either retired, resigned, been defeated or are retiring in 2020, and many of the GOP newcomers are devoted Trump loyalists, reported Politico.

“Whether the president wins or loses, his policy views and style have firmly taken over the Republican Party — nationalism and white grievance, those kinds of things,” said Matt Moore, former chairman of South Carolina's GOP. “I don’t think that Trumpy politics will be leaving the stage anytime soon.”

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Coronavirus data disappears from CDC dashboard after Trump hijacks info

Published

on

The Trump administration on Tuesday forced all hospitals and states to make a significant and immediate change in how they report coronavirus patient data, hijacking the information to be funneled into the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Experts warned the move could allow the administration to politicize the data, hide it, be less transparent, all of which interferes in the real-time usage of information to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Driver hits 63-year-old man with his car after he asked him to wear a mask in a store: police

Published

on

A Rhode Island driver is being accused of hitting a 63-year-old man with his car after the man had confronted him about not wearing a face mask into a local convenience store.

Local news station WJAR 10 reports that 63-year-old William Beauchene got into an argument this week with a 30-year-old man named Ralph Buontempo, who had gone into the convenience store in the town of Lincoln, Rhode Island without wearing a mask.

Witnesses told police that the two men began yelling obscenities at one another, and that at one point Buontempo slapped a cup of coffee out of Beauchene's hand, which then splashed all over the store manager who had come outside to try to deescalate the confrontation.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image