UNITED STATES NEWS

Former ambassador and Republican politician sues to block Tennessee voting law

Nov 30, 2023, 12:54 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Ambassador to Poland and longtime Tennessee Republican politician Victor Ashe sued state election officials on Wednesday over a law he claims is so vague that he could be prosecuted for voting in a Republican primary.

The 1972 state law requiring primary voters to be “bona fide” party members or “declare allegiance” to the party has rarely been invoked, but legislators voted this year to require polling places to post warning signs stating that it’s a crime to vote in a political party’s primary if you are not a bona fide member of that party.

Ashe and other plaintiffs challenge both laws in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Nashville. They argue that Tennessee voters aren’t registered by party, and the law does not define what it means to be a bona fide party member, to declare allegiance to a party or long that allegiance must last. Such vague terms invite arbitrary enforcement and are likely to intimidate otherwise legitimate voters, the suit claims.

“Vague statutes that chill the freedom to fully participate in the political process are unconstitutional,” the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs are asking a judge to declare the voting laws unconstitutional and prohibit their enforcement.

Ashe says in the lawsuit that although he is a lifelong Republican who has served as both a state senator and state representative as well as mayor of Knoxville, he also routinely and publicly criticizes his fellow Republicans in a weekly column for the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

“Ashe reasonably fears that the people in control of today’s Tennessee Republican Party may not consider him a bona fide member affiliated with the party and could seek to prosecute him if he votes in the next primary election,” the lawsuit states.

Another plaintiff is real estate developer Phil Lawson, who is a Democrat but has also voted for Republicans and made financial contributions to Republican candidates. The League of Women Voters of Tennessee is the third plaintiff. The civic organization that helps register voters says it doesn’t know how to accurately inform them about the primaries without subjecting them to potential prosecution. The league also worries that volunteers could be subject to a separate law that punishes people who promulgate erroneous voting information.

Tennessee voters often decide which primary to participate in based on campaign developments. The partisan balance in Tennessee means many local elections are decided in the primary, with the large cities leaning heavily Democratic and most other areas leaning heavily Republican. It is not uncommon for people to vote for one party in local elections and a different party in federal or statewide elections.

Republicans, who control the Tennessee legislature, have discussed closing primaries for years, but the idea is controversial and has never had enough support to pass.

The lawsuit names Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins and Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti as defendants. A spokesperson for Hargett and Goins directed questions to the attorney general’s office. A spokesperson for Skrmetti did not immediately respond to emails on Thursday morning.

United States News

Associated Press

‘HELP’ sign on beach points rescuers to men stuck nine days on remote Pacific atoll

Three men stranded on an uninhabited Pacific atoll survived for over a week before being rescued by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard aviators and sailors, according to the Coast Guard. The fishermen spelled out “HELP” with palm fronds on a beach, enabling Navy and Coast Guard aviators to pinpoint them on the remote island, a […]

2 minutes ago

Associated Press

Prosecutors: South Carolina prison supervisor took $219,000 in bribes; got 173 cellphones to inmates

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A supervisor who managed security at a South Carolina prison accepted more than $219,000 in bribes over three years and got 173 contraband cellphones for inmates, according to federal prosecutors. Christine Mary Livingston, 46, was indicted earlier this month on 15 charges including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. Livingston […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Oil and gas companies must pay more to drill on public lands under new Biden administration rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oil and gas companies will have to pay more to drill on public lands and satisfy stronger requirements to clean up old or abandoned wells, according to a final rule issued Friday by the Biden administration. The Interior Department’s rule raises royalty rates for oil drilling by more than one-third, to 16.67%, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Tennessee governor signs bill requiring local officers to aid US immigration authorities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to communicate with federal immigration authorities if they discover people are in the the country illegally, and would broadly mandate cooperation in the process of identifying, detaining and deporting them. The Republican signed the measure Thursday, and […]

2 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: What do Americans currently agree on ahead of 2024 election?

Jim Sharpe reads a poll about what Americans agree on during his Sharper Point commentary. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Flash flooding sweeps into the Pittsburgh area and spurs numerous water rescues

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Flash flooding caused by relentless heavy rains that soaked western Pennsylvania spurred numerous rescues and evacuations in the region, but no injuries were reported. The National Weather Service said nearly 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain fell in a short time late Thursday afternoon and evening in parts of Allegheny County, and […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Former ambassador and Republican politician sues to block Tennessee voting law