The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Dechert LLP filed a lawsuit seeking to make absentee voting available to all eligible Tennessee voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most states allow any eligible voter to cast an absentee ballot, but Tennessee requires that voters provide an excuse to do so. The state has a very narrow set of criteria to qualify for absentee voting, meaning the vast majority of voters would be forced to vote in person — or avoid voting at all for fear of becoming ill, disenfranchising thousands.

The groups are asking the court to block the state from enforcing the excuse requirement for the 2020 election calendar as while COVID-19 transmission is occurring; issue guidance instructing local election officials to issue absentee ballots to all eligible voters; and conduct a public information campaign informing voters about the elimination of the excuse requirement at this time.

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