When It Comes To Voter Turnout, Tennesseans Have Reasons To Celebrate And More Work Ahead

Monday, March 18, 2019

This month, March 2019, is Women's History Month in the United States and we Tennesseans have much to celebrate. 

We celebrate Tennessee’s role in being the state that made the “perfect 36” required for the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. In a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett dedicated the 2019-20 Blue Book this month.

As League members, we are especially proud because the League of Women Voters is the successor organization to the Tennessee suffragists who worked so tirelessly to pass the 19th amendment. We commend Secretary Hargett for recognizing the significant role Tennessee played in our nation in guaranteeing all women the right to vote.

Notwithstanding our state’s proud history, however, in 2016, Tennessee was ranked 48th in the nation for voter turnout among all states and the District of Columbia. 48 out of 51, almost dead last! 

But here is more good news. According to the recently released report “America Goes to the Polls 2018” prepared by Nonprofit VOTE and the US Elections Project, in 2018 Tennessee moved up in the rankings, from 48th place to 45th place. Tennessee voter turnout for the 2018 midterm elections was over 18 percentage points higher than in 2014. That means more of us are playing a role in selecting our leaders. 

Yet, we believe that even 45th place is not good enough for Tennessee. As Tennesseans, we know we can do better—our democracy depends on it! There is more work to be done.

Voter turnout varies widely from state to state. While it is true that voters are more engaged in highly competitive state and local races, that factor does not explain everything. The data analysis of this national report points to the more important factors of election policies that made it harder or easier to vote. In Tennessee, the 2017 implementation of online voter registration has been very successful and is likely a contributing factor to the huge increase in voter turnout in Tennessee.

But let’s not stop there. We should consider additional policy changes to make it easier to vote that have a proven track record of success in other states. States with higher rates of voter turnout have adopted policies that include same day registration, automatic voter registration, and easy access to absentee ballots or other vote at home methods. 

Automatic Voter Registration makes registration at motor vehicle and other government agencies an opt-out rather than an opt-in activity. Seventeen states have AVR, including Georgia, which, as a result, reported a tripling of voter registrations from driver services and record voter turnout. Officials report benefits such as applications processed more quickly and efficiently, fewer election day complaints about voters having to go vote where they were formerly registered, fewer provisional ballots and cost savings.

The League of Women Voters commends the TN Election officials for recent implementation of online voter registration and the thoughtful implementation of Election Day Convenience Vote Centers. We will continue to advocate for additional improvements so that Tennessee can move from the bottom 10 to the top 10 in participation in our democracy!

Marian Ott
President

Debra Gould
Vice President/Advocacy Chair

Diane DiIanni
Advocacy Co-Chair



Senator Dole's Secret Kindness To My Dying Dad

Investing In Political Effective Results

Enjoying Aunt Rosie’s Chili At Zarzour’s


Senator Dole asked me to keep this story low key, and I have honored his wishes until his passing this week. My 85-year-old dad lay dying in a hospital bed here in Chattanooga, never to ... (click for more)

In the business community, a 21 percent approval rating would be a reason for termination of employment. Yet a whopping 79 percent of the citizens disapprove of the job our elected Washington ... (click for more)

On Saturday Joe and Shannon cooked up some very special food - Aunt Rosie’s chili. In the 60’s my dad would take me there to get a bowl of that special chili with a wienie - one of my favorite ... (click for more)



Opinion

Senator Dole's Secret Kindness To My Dying Dad

Senator Dole asked me to keep this story low key, and I have honored his wishes until his passing this week. My 85-year-old dad lay dying in a hospital bed here in Chattanooga, never to make it to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, dedicated to all those of our "Greatest Generation" that bravely served our nation in battle. I left a voice message for the senator, explaining ... (click for more)

Investing In Political Effective Results

In the business community, a 21 percent approval rating would be a reason for termination of employment. Yet a whopping 79 percent of the citizens disapprove of the job our elected Washington officials are doing. Endless pageantry drives deplorable ratings. Squabbling, in-fighting, and grandstanding infused with unhealthy political divergence continues to cause political dysfunction ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Watts Bar Unit 1 Completes Scheduled Refueling, Maintenance Outage

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 1 returned to operation on Saturday, after completing a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, and is again producing reliable, carbon-free energy. At its full generating capacity, the unit creates enough energy to power 650,000 homes. “Throughout the outage, our employees and contract partners maintained their ... (click for more)

Home In Birchwood Destroyed By Fire Saturday Evening

A home was destroyed Saturday evening in the Birchwood area. At 7:25 pm, the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded to a residential fire at 11306 Birchwood Pike. The first engine on the scene reported a fully involved residential fire. Once firefighters confirmed everyone was out of the house, they conducted a defensive attack to contain the fire to the one structure. ... (click for more)

Sports

Vols To Meet Purdue In TransPerfect Music City Bowl On Dec. 30

After seven victories and establishing one of the nation's top offenses in Josh Heupel 's debut season, Tennessee football will culminate 2021 in Nashville as the Volunteers face Purdue in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in Nissan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT live on ESPN. Tickets for the game are on sale now at musiccitybowl.com. "I'd ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: In-State Bowl To Help Vols Continue Momentum

Tennessee got a destination and an opponent to complete its postseason schedule for December. At some point during Sunday afternoon’s college football extravaganza, a marathon that lasted longer than “Gone with the Wind,” the Vols received their bowl game marching orders. They will face Purdue in the Music City Bowl at 3 p.m. on Dec. 30 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The ... (click for more)