Some Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee want to expand absentee voting this year.
In a letter to Gov. Bill Lee and Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Senate Democrats claimed this will help protect voters from coronavirus.
“There is no better way to social distance — and save lives — in an election than voting by mail,” the letter said.
The letter, signed by the Senate Democratic Caucus, cites Wisconsin as an example of what could go wrong. The state held its election in April 7, and health officials have said about 40 people contracted the virus after voting.
“We do not want our voters to be in a situation where we have to choose between the health of our voters and the health of our democracy. Period,” says Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis.
Expanding absentee balloting is one of three recommendations Akbari and her colleagues are making before the August primary. They also want to increase the number of sites and days of early voting. And they say voting precinct sites should be approved by county health departments.
Some local municipalities — such as Metro Nashville — have already decided to implement some of these measures. But, Akbari says a statewide order will avoid confusion and protect more people.
“We are all Tennesseans,” Akbari said. “We don’t want anyone to get sick.”
Hargett, who oversees elections, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. Meanwhile, Lee says he has not been focusing on election matters, and that he has yet to review the recommendations.