Court: 6th Circuit Court (Published Opinions)
ON BRIEF: Danielle Lang, Jonathan Diaz, Molly Danahy, Ravi Doshi, Caleb Jackson, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER, Washington, D.C., William L. Harbison, Christopher C. Sabis, SHERRARD, ROE, VOIGT & HARBISON, PLC, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellants.
ON BRIEF: Sarah K. Campbell, Matthew D. Cloutier, OFFICE OF THE TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellees.
Judge(s): MOORE, GIBBONS, and READLER, Circuit Judges.
Court Appealed: Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville
JULIA SMITH GIBBONS, Circuit Judge. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee voting has found its way into the spotlight. Record numbers of voters are expected to vote by mail in the November 2020 election, and the increased interest in absentee voting has also led to increased interest in the policies and procedures governing how and when voters may vote absentee. In resolving cases of significant public interest, judges must, as they do in all cases, reach decision by employing independent, unbiased analysis, based on the law and the facts of a particular case.
The plaintiffs in this case consist of individuals and organizations located in Tennessee, and together they have brought five claims challenging the Tennessee statutory scheme that governs absentee voting. One claim challenges the eligibility criteria that Tennessee has imposed for absentee voters, one claim challenges limits on the plaintiffs’ ability to distribute unsolicited absentee ballots, two claims challenge Tennessee’s procedures for verifying voter signatures on absentee ballots, and the final claim challenges a restriction on first-time voters’ ability to vote absentee. Our decision today deals only with the two claims involving Tennessee’s signature verification procedures. For the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM the district court’s order denying the plaintiffs’ requested preliminary injunction on those claims, although we do so on a basis different from that relied on by the district court.