“A Tale of Two Election Law Standards”

Josh Douglas:

In April 2019, Tennessee enacted a law that would make it harder for individuals and organizations to register people to vote. On September 12, 2019, a federal district court granted a preliminary injunction against the law, finding that the law would unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of those who conduct registration drives.

That’s good news; the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals should affirm the decision if the state appeals. Imposing arduous rules—such as requirements that groups register with the state before conducting voter registration drives, take a government-provided training, and seek consent before retaining a voters’ information to use in get-out-the-vote efforts—places unnecessary barriers on the constitutional right to vote. Moreover, the law would criminalize groups who turn in too many incomplete voter registration forms while imposing a strict timing requirement on when forms must be turned in. None of these rules are necessary to fix any problems with Tennessee’s elections.

But for legal nerds and those who care about the scope of election law litigation, the path the court took to find the law (likely) unconstitutional was particularly interesting.


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