Tennessee lawmakers call for investigation after thousands of voters sent vote verification letters

Tennessee lawmakers call for investigation after thousands of voters sent vote verification letters

Tennessee lawmakers call for investigation after thousands of voters sent vote verification letters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two Tennessee lawmakers are calling for an investigation after the state elections coordinator sent more than 14,000 letters asking voters for proof of their citizenship before the upcoming election.

This comes just weeks before early voting for the primary begins.

The letter was sent to a select group of Tennesseans by state elections coordinator Mark Goins. The letter says his voter information matches that of an individual who may not have been a U.S. citizen at the time he obtained his driver’s license or identification card.

“On its face, this letter is voter intimidation,” said state Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville).

The letter then asks the voter to send proof of their citizenship, such as their birth certificate or U.S. passport.

“It gives the impression, falsely, that there is another procedural step they have to take before they can vote in the next election,” Clemmons said.

Clemmons said a select group of voters both here in Nashville and across the state received this letter.

“One of those we heard became a US citizen in 2006 and received this letter. “They’re getting this information from somewhere,” Clemmons said.

That is the most important question for the representative, who is now asking the Tennessee Attorney General to investigate why these voters were targeted.

“I want an investigation. I want answers. The people I represent and all the people of Tennessee deserve answers to this question: Why was this letter sent? Clemmons said.

The letter also sends a strong reminder of the harsh penalties if you vote illegally, including jail time and a $5,000 fine.

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“They don’t need the elections coordinator to send them a letter outlining the criminal law and the penalty for illegal voters and implying that they have to mail something verifying their citizenship in the next few weeks,” Clemmons said.

News 2 reached out to the attorney general’s office for comment; however, we have not received a response. News 2 also reached out to the secretary of state’s office after Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis) sent a letter asking for clarification.

In response, the elections coordinator wrote a letter that reads in part: “We are legally verifying our voter lists to ensure they are correct and up to date. Our Office wants all eligible citizens to register to vote and vote in Tennessee elections. The TCA law requires my office to check voter rolls against the Tennessee Department of Safety and Security’s database to ensure that non-U.S. citizens are not registered to vote in this state. . . Responses from citizens who want to correct their information with us have been overwhelmingly positive. By providing an opportunity for those whose eligibility is in question to correct any outdated information, our voter registration information will be up to date and the votes of eligible Tennessee voters will be counted.”

It also states that the information received will be stored securely.