Several months after Tennessee’s elections office made a change that has almost entirely shut down voting rights restoration in the state, officials were quietly still debating whether people who hadn’t gotten their gun rights back should be eligible to cast a ballot again.
Sources recently reached out to AP’s Jonathan Mattise when Tennessee was considering making their rules about convicted felons’ voting rights even stricter, providing court depositions in which state officials had admitted they didn’t decide what to do with the gun rights issue. Mattise brought the info to the election office to ask if they had made any decision, and the office for the first time publicly revealed that restored gun rights are in fact now a prerequisite for getting voting rights back. The practical impact could mean far more people are cut out of the process — all Tennessee felony drug crimes and felonies involving violence specifically strip away someone’s gun rights, meaning that high-level action such as a pardon by a governor is now needed to restore their voting rights. The decision also provoked outrage from advocates and Democrats that gun rights in the pro-gun state were being tied to voting rights.