Court restores Tennessee 1st time voter limit on mail voting

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FILE – In this June 30, 2020, file photo, a box of absentee ballots wait to be counted at the Albany County Board of Elections in Albany, N.Y. A New York federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to live up to its responsibilities to timely process election mail. The Monday, Sept. 21 written decision by Judge Victor Marrero came after several individuals including candidates for public office sued. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A federal appeals court panel has reinstated a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters in the state to appear in person to vote.

A split 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned a lower court’s ruling that blocked the restriction on absentee voting ahead of the 2020 general election. Judge Julia Smith Gibbons reasoned in part that the COVID-19 pandemic is “unlikely to pose a serious threat during the next election cycle.”

In dissent, Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote that it’s hard to tell how the pandemic will evolve over months and years.

The law requires first-time voters to vote in person or show ID at the local election office to vote by mail.

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