Opinion: Don't Take Your Right to Vote for Granted

Jun 22, 2022 at 01:53 pm by Chloe Cerutti

Don’t take your right to vote for granted. 

Rising rents, inflation, COVID-related job losses and evictions have resulted in increased homelessness and changes of residence for many Tennesseans. If you are among them, it’s important to report your change of address to your local County Election Commission and confirm that you will be able to vote in the upcoming August 4, 2022 election.           

After redistricting was completed earlier this year, voter registration cards designating each voter’s newly configured voting precincts were mailed out to all registered voters across the state. If at that time you were no longer at the street address of record and your new voter registration card and/or any subsequent communications from the Election Commission was returned as undeliverable, you may be at risk of being purged from the voter rolls.   

August 4, 2022 is a very significant election when voters will select and elect candidates for Governor, Mayor, state and U.S. Congressional representatives, as well as judges, county clerks, commissioners, and city council and school board members.  Early voting runs from July 15 through July 30, 2022.  However, since the last date to register to vote is July 5, 2022; time is of the essence to register or re-register to vote. With a Tennessee Driver License, both can be easily accomplished online at GOVOTETN.COM, the state’s official election information site. Polling locations and general voting information can also be obtained from the Secretary of State at 877-850-4959. 

Voting in Tennessee requires that one must be able to receive mail at a physical street address, not a post office box, and voters must present specific forms of picture ID at the time of voting. That includes a Tennessee driver license with photo (current or expired), U.S. Passport, U.S. Military ID with photo, or Tennessee handgun carry permit with photo. Student identification is not accepted. For those without a permanent residence, a public shelter address is acceptable.   

Tennessee continues to rank poorly among the states for its lack of voter participation – 48th in 2020; due in large part to excessively restrictive voting laws. Confusing, cumbersome, and overly complicated requirements and procedures certainly apply to By-Mail Voting, despite that being a favored voting method for many voters.  Then there are the hurdles which former convicted felons must overcome to regain their voting rights after having paid their debt to society. That has resulted in more than 1 in 5 black adults with a previous felony conviction in Tennessee (most often drug-related) being unable to vote. And now that homelessness has become a felonious offense for those unfortunates caught camping or sleeping on public property, there will undoubtedly be many more joining the ranks of Tennessee’s disenfranchised.   

In 2022, the importance of our votes has never been greater.  There are numerous quality-of-life issues locally and nationally about which voters should be concerned. Paramount are those related to gun control, wanton violence, and racist-based extremism.  Also in jeopardy are the rights of voters, workers and most particularly that of women. For Tennesseans, we can’t ignore our high crime rate; lack of affordable housing, access to health care; and the potential threat which charter schools pose to public education. Indeed there are many reasons to hold accountable those elected officials who have allowed their personal financial and political interests to supersede the well-being of those for whom they are pledged to serve. We, the People have the power to replace those individuals. Bear in mind that the right to vote is fundamental to maintaining a healthy democracy. Exercise that right and make your voices heard.        

Chloe Cerutti

Murfreesboro 37128        

Sections: Politics