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Election and Voter Registration Records

Reference Number: MTAS-437
Reviewed Date: 11/28/2018

Generally, election and permanent voter registration records are open to public inspection. The Tennessee Court of Appeals held, in Chattanooga Publishing Co. v. Hamilton Co. Election Comm’n, No. E2003-00076-COA-R3-CV, 2003 WL 22469808, (Tenn. Ct. of App. Oct. 31, 2003), that election records are accessible to the public, unless covered by a confidentiality provision, even when they become part of a TBI investigation, if they were requested prior to the investigation.

There are, however, a few exceptions in State law that make specific types of election records confidential. T.C.A. § 2-11-202(a)(5) protects reports generated as the result of an investigation into potential election law violations. Additionally, Article IV, Section 4 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that all elections, except those made by the General Assembly, "shall be by ballot". The Tennessee Supreme Court, in Mooney v. Phillips, 118 S.W. 2d 224, 226, (Tenn. 1938) stated, "the prime objective of constitutional provisions that voting shall be by ballot is to insure secrecy to the voter in expressing his choice as between candidates." Based upon this language, the manner in which a registered voter votes in an election is also confidential.