For Immediate Release—–Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Black Lives Matter Memphis held a scheduled press conference at the Shelby County Election Commission. It is of grave concern that the absentee ballot process is being tampered with and we have concerns about the election’s integrity because voting should be as easy as possible. This is true in every county in Tennessee except for Shelby County where there is systematic disenfranchisement. The Future of democracy in the United States of America could come down to southern swing states. Black Lives Matter Memphis Activist’s conference on the voter suppression exposing the lies in which the administrator who put on the SCEC website you could not email absentee ballot request forms to the election commission. The State law say that you can email them and instructs voters to send to the local commission. The deception and illegal practices have been a common practice for over a decade and voter intimidation language was drafted, specifically, for Shelby County by coordinator Mark Goins approved by Republican majority State commissioners. Candidates participated in rally for change to protect the black vote in Memphis.
Across the U.S., many politicians have passed measures making it harder to cast a ballot. Strategic measures have been put in place to deceive and intimidate voters particularly in Shelby County due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Their goal is to manipulate political outcomes, which will not accurately reflect the will of the people. Our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate and have their voices heard. The state law is clear and the Shelby County Election Commission (SCEC) election commission has engaged in illegal tactics to suppress votes and intimidate disabled voters from requesting by email an absentee ballot. Legislators have not passed any laws that would allow Shelby County to be exempt from email during Covid-19.
SCEC has publicly discriminated against voters to suppress the vote in a predominantly black Democratic county. All actions were initiated and approved by a Republican designee and this illegal process will determine the outcome of our votes. Communities susceptible to suppression are outright targeted- people of color, students, the elderly, & people with disabilities. We claim discrimination for this class of protected people.
Currently, the Davidson County Chancery Court is reviewing racial bias in the criminal justice system. Felony disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect Black people in Tennessee, who often face harsher sentences than White people for the same offenses such as loss of citizenship. Many of these tactics are rooted in the Jim Crow era when legislators tried to block Black Americans’ newly won right to vote by enforcing poll taxes, literacy tests, and other unconstitutional barriers such as fines and court costs that must be paid to be restored to be eligible to vote. SCEC actions are equivalent to Jim Crow tactics.
The most disproportionate incarceration rate of Black people in the nation has resulted in the disenfranchisement of an estimated one in four voting-age black men. Every 10 years states redraw district lines based on population data gathered in the US Census. Legislators use these district lines to allocate representation in Congress and state legislatures. When redistricting is conducted properly, district lines are redrawn to reflect population changes and racial diversity. The State of Tennessee will use redistricting as a political tool to manipulate the outcomes of future elections. Just as the election commissioner move the marker and told us that we could not stand on the public steps this is what they always do cheat, move the ball, hide the ball, blow the whistle, they will do anything to stay in power. It is pertinent to deliver this information to the public so that this undemocratic practice that is stifling the voice of millions of voters is clearly understood.
All Shelby County voters are disenfranchised by these illegal practices of our local administrator and disproportionately affect voters with suppression tactics. Our democratic State Election Commissioner Greg Duckett was unable to provide us any information or clarification he did not even know about the email law. He has yet to respond to respond he was appointed by the State Caucus and is an attorney for Baptist Hospital. Black lives won’t matter until Black Lives Matter. #blacklivesmatter #blackvotersmatter #protecttheblackvotd