Retired RVers' Right to Vote Restored in Time for November Election

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
September 24, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU of Tennessee
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CLEVELAND, TN – After over two years of administrative and legal wrangling, ACLU-TN has successfully negotiated an agreement that allows full-time RVers Ron and Leone Teel and Tom Layton, to vote in the November presidential election.

“We are delighted that this novel issue was resolved in time for our clients to vote in this historic election,” said Tricia Herzfeld, ACLU-TN staff attorney, who represented the RVers. “It is important that people be allowed to exercise their rights to vote and to travel, without repercussions to either. ACLU-TN is committed to ensuring the right to vote for all citizens regardless of their lifestyle choices.”

The Teels and Mr. Layton, who live full-time in their recreational vehicles, were among over 250 full-time RVers who were purged from Tennessee voting rolls in 2006 based on a change in Tennessee law which prohibited people from using a commercial address to register to vote.

After unsuccessfully attempting to regain their voting rights, the Teels and Mr. Layton contacted ACLU-TN. In November 2007, ACLU-TN filed Teel, et. al. v. Darnell, et. al. in federal court, arguing that the 2006 law violated RVers equal protection and due process rights. While dismissing the case, the Court acknowledged alternative ways for the Teels and Mr. Layton to restore their right to vote while maintaining their right to travel and their autonomy to choose where they live.

After lengthy discussions with ACLU-TN, the Bradley County Election Commission agreed that the National Voter Registration Act allows the Teels and Mr. Layton to use the address of the parking lot of a mail forwarding service to register to vote.

“At no time did we think that our choice to live and travel in an RV would require us to give up our right to vote. Because of the help of ACLU-TN, we can now vote in November and have our voices heard in this election,” said Ron Teel.

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