State of Tennessee

Tennessee Primary Voting Law Challenge

Ashe v. Hargett

Lawsuit filed on behalf of two voters and the League of Women Voters of Tennessee against Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett (R), Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins (R) and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti (R). The plaintiffs are challenging a Tennessee law that requires a person to be a “bona fide member of and affiliated with” or “declare allegiance” to a political party to vote in a party’s primary election. 

The plaintiffs argue that the law does not provide a definition for how a voter could become a “bona fide” member or “allegiant” to a political party and is therefore unconstitutionally vague. The plaintiffs argue that “through threats of prosecution based on nebulous and unknowable standards,” the laws violate the First Amendment because they will deter a larger range of protected voting conduct than is necessary to protect against “a phantom threat of malicious crossover voting.” The plaintiffs allege that the law violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause and request that the court block its enforcement. 

On March 4, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, thereby ending the case.

Case Documents

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