Clarifying Voting Procedures for November 3 Election

September 4, 2020
Enewsletters

September 4, 2020

Dear Friend,  

This week, I clarified procedures for voting in this year’s November 3 general election, including absentee voting and early voting, which begins on October 14. I also wrote to Attorney General William Barr demanding that he correct erroneous statements he made recently about mail-in voting. Earlier, I wrote to Barr asking for Memphis to be included in a pilot program involving federal law enforcement officials wearing body cameras. I also spoke at a National Constitution Center forum on defending press freedom during these turbulent times; expressed dismay at President Trump’s misleading statements about street violence; announced $64.6 million in grants over three years to the Memphis International Airport; urged my constituents to fill out their 2020 Census forms; announced a significant Head Start grant to Porter-Leath and a fire-prevention grant to the City of Memphis; and offered a coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens. 

Clarifying Voting Procedures for November 3 Election 
Demanding the Attorney General Correct his False Statements on Mail-In Voting
Seeking Body-Worn Cameras for Federal Law Enforcement 
Flagging National Federal Eviction Moratorium Takes Effect Today
Speaking Out to Defend Press Freedom 
Seeking to Correct Misleading Trump Statements about Street Violence 
Announcing $64.6 Million in Grants to Memphis International Airport 
Urging Constituents to Fill Out 2020 U.S. Census 
Announcing Head Start Grant to Porter-Leath 
Announcing Fire-Prevention Grant to City of Memphis 
Weekly Health Tip 
Quote of the Week 


Clarifying Voting Procedures for November 3 Election 

Last week, my newsletter provided some information about absentee voting which I’d like to further clarify here. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27. Due to mail delivery delays at the Postal Service, it is strongly recommended that you request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Request your ballot here, and once you’ve received it and cast your votes, immediately send it back to the Election Commission. See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on voting absentee for a full list of circumstances that qualify you to vote absentee by mail. Mail-in ballots must be received at your county election commission by Election Day to count. Mail-in ballots CANNOT be hand delivered to election offices. The only acceptable way to submit an absentee mail-in ballot in Tennessee is by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, et cetera). If you do not receive your ballot in the mail, please contact the Shelby County Board of Elections Absentee Department at (901) 222-6800 or absenteevoting@shelbycountytn.gov.  

If you haven’t received or haven’t returned your absentee ballot, you may still be able to cast a provisional ballot, either during early voting or on election day. However, provisional ballots require additional verification. To make sure your ballot is counted, it is best to apply for your absentee ballot as early as possible and return by mail it as early as possible.   

The Memphis Public Library cannot make absentee ballot applications available at its locations but does provide voter registration forms. Staff are also willing to help download forms from the Election Commission for patrons. 

Voters must be registered by October 5. New voters have three options to register to vote in Tennessee. You can apply online here, print and hand-deliver your completed application to the Shelby County Election Commission office (located at 980 Nixon Drive, Memphis, TN 38134), or register in person at any of the following agencies: County Clerk’s Office, County Election Commission Office, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Safety (DMV), Department of Veterans Affairs, a public library or the Register of Deeds Office.  
Early Voting begins on Wednesday, October 14 and ends Thursday, October 29.  See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on upcoming elections for election dates, offices to be elected, Early Voting schedules (locations, dates, hours), Election Day polling locations, sample ballots and an absentee application 

Demanding the Attorney General Correct his False Statements on Mail-In Voting

As Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, this afternoon I called upon Attorney General William Barr to publicly correct false statements he made in a CNN interview regarding alleged fraudulent mail-in voting. Barr’s office has acknowledged he cited a non-existent federal indictment and mischaracterized the facts of a minor state prosecution in Texas. Since my Subcommittee has jurisdiction over voting rights, I offered the Attorney General an opportunity to correct the record at a public hearing. See my release and the letter here

Seeking Body-Worn Cameras for Federal Law Enforcement 

Last Friday evening, I sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, asking him to include Memphis among the cities in a pilot program for federal law enforcement using body-worn cameras. Earlier in the week, U.S. Marshals shot a Memphis teenager. I told Barr that the use of body cameras would improve public confidence in the credibility of investigations. I also mentioned that two bills I have sponsored calling for the increased use of body cameras are incorporated in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed by the House and awaiting action in the Senate. See my release and the letter here

Flagging National Federal Eviction Moratorium Takes Effect Today

On September 1, 37 days after the expiration of the CARES Act moratorium on evictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an agency order, halting evictions for some renters who meet specific criteria and provide their landlords with required documentation. The agency order goes into effect today, September 4, 2020, and will run through December 31, 2020. Those affected should immediately take action. Click here for the form: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf

For more information click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/04/2020-19654/temporary-halt-in-residential-evictions-to-prevent-the-further-spread-of-covid-19

Given the tight deadline, I am also providing this information via email and social media.

Speaking Out to Defend Press Freedom 

Amid the President’s daily attacks on the press and efforts to disparage independent reporting that reflects badly on his actions, I participated in a National Constitution Center forum on “Press Freedom During Turbulent Times” with my Congressional colleague Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania and others. Trump’s efforts to undermine the credibility of the press while promoting false narratives is unprecedented in our history. See a video of the forum here

Seeking to Correct Misleading Trump Statements about Street Violence  

Besides his hyping of snake oil remedies like hydroxychloroquine and injecting disinfectants, President Trump has repeatedly trumpeted a false narrative that racial justice protests in response to the repeated police shootings of unarmed Black men are actually widespread riots and street violence. Downplaying the apparent right-wing ideological motivation of the alleged killer of two law enforcement officials in California and a wannabe police officer’s killing of two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump has called Black Lives Matter “a symbol of hate.” The American people are legitimately upset at repeated instances of police brutality and misconduct, and their peaceful protests deserve protection, not White House condemnation. It’s important to understand what is behind the high-profile violent provocations while protecting our First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and be heard. 

Announcing $64.6 Million in Grants to Memphis International Airport 

On Wednesday, I announced $64.6 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to Memphis International Airport. The three-year funding underwrites two ongoing projects: de-icing pads and improvements to terminal sky bridges. One significant aspect of Wednesday’s announcement was the award of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding intended to shore up airport finances that have been hard hit by sharp declines in air travel. See my release here

Urging Constituents to Fill out 2020 Census Forms   
 
I want to call your attention to the need for our constituents to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census. The Trump Administration abruptly shortened the deadline for participating by a month, so forms must now be filled out by September 30. Memphis has historically been undercounted and, as a result, underfunded. An accurate Census count is needed to ensure that our community receives the federal resources it needs and deserves. If you haven’t already, please consider filling out the form today. If you need help filing your Census questionnaire, call the help line at (844) 330-2020. 
 
Announcing Head Start Grant to Porter-Leath 

Last week, I announced a grant to Porter-Leath’s Early Head Start programs that prepare children for kindergarten. This week, I announced an $1.2 million grant to its regular Head Start programs, an important investment in our community. See my release here

Announcing Fire-Prevention Grant to City of Memphis 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide a substantial grant to the City of Memphis for fire prevention. See my release here

Weekly Health Tip 

Again this week, I want to call attention to the high number of coronavirus cases, in Tennessee and across the country, that are likely the result of reopening prematurely without implementing basic precautionary measures such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. When you’re indoors, six feet might not be far enough, according to recent studies; 14 feet might be better. It is best to wear a mask, particularly when indoors in close quarters. We must work together to get through this.     
 
Quote of the Week 

In honor of Labor Day on Monday, I offer some remarks from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who memorably reminded us, in Memphis, at the height of the Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968: “All labor has dignity." 

"Social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. Without this hard work, time itself becomes the ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of social stagnation. So in order to realize the American dream of economic justice and the brotherhood of man, men and women all over the nation must continue to work for it.” -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speech to United Automobile Workers Union, Detroit, April 27, 1961. 

Have a happy Labor Day.

As always, I remain.
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress