Counties told to use new mail voting info, per court order

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FILE – In this May 28, 2020, file photo, mail-in ballots are processed at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election. Democrats are mounting a new effort to push back against a well-funded Republican campaign that seeks to undermine public confidence in mail-in-voting. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee election officials on Monday distributed guidance required by a judge for counties to update their absentee voting information to reflect a court-ordered voting-by-mail option for all eligible voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins sent the instructions after plaintiffs attorneys last week named 20 counties with absentee request forms or other website information that didn’t correctly reference COVID-19 as a reason to vote absentee. The 20 counties now appear to have edited their websites with the COVID-19 information.

Goins’ message tells local officials to update their websites and other materials and link to the correct absentee application. If they can’t, they must include a bold heading on their websites that links to the secretary of state’s website on absentee voting.

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered the expansion during the pandemic earlier this month.

The following week, she told state officials “shame on you” for not following her order when the state decided to reword its absentee applications on its own and hold off on sending absentee applications related to COVID-19 for hours after the initial ruling.

The state, which is appealing the expansion, reworked the form and sent local officials updated guidance based on the judge’s new orders.

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