The Andrew Goodman Foundation Statement on Challenging Tennessee’s Anti-Democratic and Shameful Voter Suppression Law
At a time when the state of Tennessee ranks near the bottom in the nation in both voter turnout and registration, the governor has signed a bill into law aimed at further decreasing voter participation. HB1079/S971, which places undue burdens and threats of civil and criminal penalties on organizations engaged in voter registration, is a transparent and shameful attempt to restrict the right of people of color, students, and marginalized Americans to vote. This bill is part of a larger ongoing voter suppression effort in Tennessee evidenced by the closure of polling places, limits on early voting, arbitrary voter eligibility requirements, and more. The state legislature and governor should be making it easier for its citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, not harder.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to empower young people on college campuses across the country through civic engagement, leadership development, and voter registration – which is central to our legacy. The legislation’s vague language and extraordinary penalties threaten to chill the work of our Vote Everywhere Ambassadors and their campus allies who work tirelessly to engage their fellow classmates to make their voices heard and their votes count at the ballot box.
Our organization’s namesake, Andrew Goodman, was a twenty-year-old volunteer and champion of equality and voting rights – making the ultimate sacrifice in 1964 when he was murdered by the KKK in Mississippi while registering African Americans to vote. The fact that in 2019 state governments like Tennessee continue to further undermine one of our most fundamental constitutional rights is unconscionable. Accordingly, we strongly condemn the passage of this anti-democratic and unconstitutional legislation and have joined the Tennessee State Conference of the N.A.A.C.P., Democracy Nashville-Democratic Communities, and The Equity Alliance in filing a lawsuit challenging it.
The complaint can be read here.