Judge Rejects State Non-Compliance Efforts on Absentee-Vote Order

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The Flyer has learned that Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has denied a motion from state attorneys seeking a stay of her order last week to permit universal absentee voting this year.

On Friday, Lyle had ruled affirmatively on legal motions on behalf of mail-in voting during the pandemic. The suits had been brought both by Memphis representatives of Up the Vote 901 and by members of the American Civil Liberties Union. But, as indicated in evidence presented by the plaintiffs on Monday, the state appeared to have resolved to take an obstructionist course rather than comply immediately with Lyle's ruling.

The evidence included:

*the transcript of a telephone conversation between state Representative London Lamar of Memphis and personnel of the Secretary of State’s office who temporized and delayed rather than comply with Lamar’s request for an absentee ballot;

*a Twitter thread from an East Tennessee voter who documented efforts by the Knox County Election Commission to discourage her from voting absentee and threatened her with prosecution for fraud; and

*an email from state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins instructing election officials to “hold off on sending absentee applications to voters” who sought mail-in ballots for reasons relating to their apprehensions about contracting COVID-19 at the public polls.


Judge Lyle entered an ordered denying the state’s motion for a stay but permitting them to take the matter up on appeal. Meanwhile her original order on behalf of honoring vote-by-mail applications continues in effect, and she will preside over an upcoming hearing regarding sanctions against the state.

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