In 2022, redistricting divided Davidson County in Tennessee among three Congressional districts. During early voting for the November 2022 general election, hundreds of residents were issued ballots for districts in which they did not reside. LWV Tennessee and individual plaintiffs sought an emergency injunction to prevent further issuance of incorrect ballots ahead of Election Day.
Before the 2020 Census, Davidson County, Tennessee, containing Nashville and several suburbs, was wholly contained in the Fifth Congressional District. In the subsequent redistricting process, Tennessee state lawmakers divided the county among three Congressional districts: the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh. During early voting for the 2022 midterm election, starting on October 19, 2022, and ending on November 3, 2022, Davidson County election officials issued incorrect ballots to hundreds of voters, possibly due to a discrepancy between state and county maps. As a result, these residents’ votes were cast for candidates who were not running for the district in which the voters resided. Additionally, during portions of the early voting period, the Secretary of State’s website did not correctly inform some voters which district they lived in. Voting rights advocates anticipated that hundreds or thousands of additional Davidson County residents would receive incorrect ballots on Election Day, November 8, 2022. Ballots cast in Davidson County are not traceable to the voters who cast them, meaning that once a vote is cast incorrectly, it cannot be withdrawn based on the identity of the voter, and voters are not able to cast a second, correct vote.
On November 4, 2022, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee joined two individual plaintiffs, both voters residing in Davidson County who were issued ballots for the wrong district during early voting, to file a complaint in the Chancery Court of Davidson County. The complaint alleged that the issuance of incorrect ballots to registered voters in Davidson County denied them their fundamental right to vote in violation of the Tennessee Constitution. Plaintiffs requested an emergency temporary injunction enjoining the issuance of incorrect ballots on Election Day and requiring an independent audit of the ballot errors.
Later that day, LWV Tennessee and Davidson County election officials reached an agreement. The Chancery Court for Davidson County issued a court order stipulating that election officials would identify the misassigned voters ahead of Election Day and make special paper ballots available to all voters in districts where incorrect ballots were issued, enabling these residents to vote at either the correct precinct or the precinct the Secretary of State’s office had improperly classified them as residing in. Additionally, people who voted in the wrong district during early voting were given an opportunity to vote provisional ballots indicating who they would have voted for if they had voted in the right district. The state also agreed to conduct a full independent audit to ensure similar problems would not occur again.
The League was represented in this matter by the ACLU Foundation of Tennessee.
LWV Tennessee files complaint
LWV Tennessee and individual residents of Davidson County file a complaint seeking an emergency temporary injunction preventing the issuance of incorrect ballots for the November general elections and granting relief for voters who already cast incorrect ballots during early voting.
Court issues order formalizing agreement between parties
The parties agree to a settlement stipulating that voters given the wrong ballots during early voting may cast provisional ballots in the correct district, all Davidson County voters will be issued correct ballots on Election Day, and the state will conduct an independent audit.