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Tennessee may ease ex-cons’ voting restrictions

The Republican-majority Tennessee legislature has begun moving a bill that would end the state's unique requirement that convicted felons may only start voting again if they prove they're current on child support payments and have paid any fines or restitutions connected to their crimes.

The legislation is being pushed by both the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group aligned with the Koch brothers.

Advocates say the current system makes it largely impossible for low-income felons to vote again. An estimated 320,000 Tennesseans (about 8 percent of the state's adult population) are convicted felons but fewer than 12,000 have seen their voting rights restored in the last 25 years, according to a report by Think Tennessee, a nonprofit think-tank.

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Election security efforts should be expanded to cover the vendors who provide the equipment and other systems used to record and count votes, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Here a Miami-Dade County election worker checks voting machines for accuracy.

Election equipment vendors should face more security oversight, report argues

Efforts to fend off election hackers in 2020 and beyond have revolved around protecting ballot equipment and the databases of registered voters. Little attention has been focused on the vendors and their employees.

But the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice is proposing that the vendors who make election equipment and related systems be subjected to heightened oversight and vetting, much like defense contractors or others involved in national security.

"There is almost no federal regulation of the vendors that design and maintain the systems that allow us to determine who can vote, how they vote, or how their votes are counted and reported," according to a new report from the nonpartisan policy institute.

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