A Davidson County judge yesterday ruled that the state of Tennessee must provide its 4.1 million registered voters with a mail-in voting option, in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that recent limitations on absentee ballot voting during the pandemic constitute “an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.”
Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office had reportedly believed that the fear of spreading or catching COVID-19 would not be enough for the judge to issue a vote-by-mail order. The state, which is likely to appeal the decision, also argued that the new system could not be set up in time for the November elections.
Voters will still have the option to vote in person during early voting or on Election Day if they prefer.
“When, however, normal industry-recognized assumptions are used, the evidence establishes that the resources are there to provide temporary expanded access to voting by mail in Tennessee during the pandemic if the State provides the leadership and motivation as other states have done,” the judge wrote in her decision.