NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A bill to eliminate early voting and abolish voting machines is being withdrawn.
Tullahoma Republican Sen. Janice Bowling pulled the bill Tuesday after expressing her concerns for election security.
Tennessee isn’t the only place where a slew of election reform bills are popping up across Republican-controlled legislatures.
“Obviously right now, we’re having a big fight about what it means to be a democracy and whether people trust it or not,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) said.
The bill from Bowling would also have made hand-marked, watermarked paper ballots the only way to cast a vote. Calls to the deputy speaker of the Senate went unanswered.
“Some people in the Republican Party currently see measures that make it easier to vote as something that makes democracy worse,” Yarbro said.
However, Sen. Bowling says that’s not the case. In a previous interview she said early voting has lead to “mischief.”
Despite the bill being withdrawn Democrats say there is room for compromise on election security specifically on having a paper trail.
“I think it does make a lot of sense to make sure that you have a paper backup — so that the voter can look at their vote and make sure that it was cast the way they wanted it to and if there’s any questions afterwards you can go back and count them by numbers,” Yarbro said.
The bill passed both first and second consideration before heading to the State and Local Government Committee.
Many lawmakers want to cut out the outside noise.
“We gotta get passed the fighting and get to just running a fair election that people can understand with clear rules that people can follow, and I think that’s what almost everybody wants,” Yarbro said.
Other election-related laws have been introduced including a bill to fingerprint all voters. Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) and Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet) are behind that push.
There has not been any evidence despite court challenges of widespread voter fraud.
Tennessee’s voter participation remains among the worst in the country.