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Federal judge hands down a huge election ruling


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The courts have had to rule on massive election cases in recent years. And yet another one has been decided on.

Because a federal judge has ruled on an utterly massive election integrity case.

On Monday, a federal court in Nashville rejected an appeal of a Tennessee statute that requires primary voters to be “bona fide” party members.

In November, Victor Ashe, a longstanding “Republican” politician from Tennessee and former ambassador to Poland, filed a lawsuit against the state’s election authorities. He said that he may face prosecution just by participating in a Republican primary due to the law’s ambiguity.

It is illegal to vote in a political party’s primary if you are not a legitimate member of that party, according to a statute that was approved last year that mandates the posting of warning signs at voting stations. Those placards are a nod to a state statute from 1972 that has seen very little application since then. You have to be a “bona fide” party member or “declare allegiance” to the party in order to vote in the primary.

Ashe and the other plaintiffs contended that the regulations encourage arbitrary enforcement and could scare law-abiding citizens because voters in Tennessee are not registered by party. Neither the definition of a “bona fide party member” nor the duration of “allegiance” to a certain party are specified in the statutes.

According to the decision that was handed down by United States District Judge Eli Richardson on Monday, the complaint was dismissed because Ashe, real estate developer Phil Lawson, and the League of Women Voters of Tennessee did not have the legal right to file a lawsuit. They were being overly hypothetical in their assertions of possible harm, according to Richardson.

According to Ashe and Lawson, if authorities question their party affiliation, individuals might face voting-related prosecutions. In his weekly column for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Ashe, a Republican, frequently attacks his fellow Republicans. Although he claims to be a Democrat, Lawson has cast Republican ballots and donated to Republican causes.

On the other hand, the Tennessee League of Women Voters had other priorities. The civic group that assists with voter registration has stated that it is unsure of how to provide factual information on the primaries without putting its members in danger of legal action. The league was also concerned that volunteers would be held accountable under a different statute that penalizes the dissemination of false voting information.

In his ruling, Richardson criticized the League for failing to provide an acceptable explanation for why a statute that has been in existence for more than half a century is likely to alarm or perplex voters.

Judge Skrmetti also determined that the three defendants in the case — Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins, and Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti — do not have the authority to prosecute cases involving the challenged laws.

Ashe mentioned that their lawyers are now analyzing the decision and will determine the subsequent actions.

His expectation, he expressed in a Monday phone conversation, was that people would still cast ballots in the primary that they preferred, and that this would not discourage them from doing so.

It is common for campaign developments to influence which primary a voter in Tennessee chooses to participate in. Because of Tennessee’s party balance, many municipal elections go down to the primary. While the state’s larger cities tend to vote Democratic, the state’s rural areas tend to tilt Republican. People often cast their ballots for one political party in municipal elections and another in national or state-level ballots.

The Republican-controlled legislature in Tennessee has long considered ending primaries; but, this contentious proposal has never garnered sufficient backing to become law.

More conservative Republicans are left scratching their heads as to why this so-called “Republican” Victor Ashe is trying to murky the waters of elections even more than they are today.

If you take a step back, we already have elections that now span over weeks instead of taking place on a particular day with mail-in ballots becoming more and more prevalent.

Millions of Americans are already concerned that there’s funny business playing out behind the curtains everytime a major election rolls around. Need we bring up 2020 and 2022 yet again?

It seems entirely reasonable and fair that Democrats shouldn’t be participating in Republican primaries just to try sway the results of the outcome because they don’t like a certain person who is running in the GOP primary. And the same goes for the reverse as well.

The Conservative Column will keep you updated on any developments in this story.


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