New Tennessee law could lead to voter confusion at the poll

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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As municipal elections in Tennessee fast approach, groups are making an urgent push for more voter education – especially in the Nashville metro area.

More than 4.5 million Tennessee voters could cast ballots in the Metropolitan General Election on March 5.

League of Women Voters of Tennessee President Debby Gould said there’s particular concern about a new law posted at polling locations, that states a person needs to be a “bona fide” member of a political party in order to vote in that primary election.

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“This is of concern because Tennessee does not define who is in a political party, who is a partisan member,” said Gould. “The League of Women Voters is involved in a lawsuit contesting this law, because we believe that it’s confusing to voters and creates unnecessary confusion at the polls.”

Gould explained that in Tennessee, there are no public records indicating which political party a voter is affiliated with.

Unlike some states that list party affiliation on voter registration cards and rolls, Tennessee doesn’t record that information.

Early voting ended Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. Central Time.

Gould emphasized that local elections – for positions like mayor, school board, and judicial races – are just as important as the presidential primary.

She noted that Tennesseans have expressed multiple concerns with such local issues as garbage pickup, clean air, and environmental protection that involve locally elected officials.

But she said the state ranks poorly in the U.S. for its overall lack of voter participation.

“Tennessee has had a dismal record in recent years, both of voter registration and voter turnout,” said Gould. “We have been consistently in the bottom 10 of all states, in terms of both voter registration and voter participation.”

She added that the League’s website – – is where anyone can check their voter registration status, find their polling place and see the specific races on their ballot, along with candidate information.