A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld Tennessee’s signature matching requirement for absentee voters.
Plaintiffs argued that Tennessee’s signature verification process violates both their First Amendment and procedural due process rights. As a result, they sought an injunction that would require election officials to provide absentee voters notice and an opportunity to cure any ballot deficiencies.
However, the court declined to consider whether an injunction was warranted because plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate that they “face an actual, concrete, particularized and imminent threat of harm” and thus lack standing. Rather, the plaintiffs’ allegations are mere “speculation about the upcoming election.”
The court reasoned:
Even if an individual’s ballot is erroneously rejected as part of the signature verification process, the individual still may have an opportunity to vote through other means. Under Tennessee law, officials are required to notify individuals immediately if their ballot is rejected due to an improper signature, and officials go to great length to promptly notify affected voters. After they are notified that their absentee ballot has been declined, voters are able to either send a second absentee ballot or cast a provisional ballot in person. Many voter, therefore, will likely have an opportunity to cure any errors in their initial absentee ballot.
Not all judges agreed with the decision of the court, as Judge Karen Moore dissented. In her dissent, Moore stated that “today’s majority opinion is yet another chapter in the concentrated effort to restrict the vote.”?As a result of Thursday’s decision, “Tennessee is free to—and will—disenfranchise hundreds, if not thousands of its citizens who cast their votes absentee by mail.”