Expressing Concern Over Attorney General Barr's Vote-Sppression Tactics

September 11, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,

This week, I continued to express my concern over vote-suppression tactics being used to affect this November’s general election, including Attorney General Barr’s attempts to suppress the vote with false statements regarding mail-in voting, and sought to make voters aware of their registration deadline and absentee and early voting options. Earlier today, I wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking that he exercise better oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program in light of evident fraud in the program. I also pledged, on this 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, to “Never Forget” those we lost that day and to meet the needs of survivors. Also this week, I celebrated Labor Day by recognizing all those working on the front lines, and working from home, during this pandemic; wrote to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to register my continuing disquiet over his government’s crackdown on student dissent and free expression; reminded constituents of the September 30 deadline to fill out 2020 U.S. Census forms; announced significant community development housing grants to Memphis and Shelby County; spoke in support of restaurant workers and employees of entertainment venues hard hit by the economic consequences of the coronavirus; announced grants to combat sickle cell disease and to better understand aging; remembered my friend state Senator Curtis Person; 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.

Expressing Concern Over Attorney General Barr’s Vote-Suppression Tactics
Clarifying Voting Procedures
Writing to Secretary Mnuchin with Concerns about Paycheck Protection Program
Celebrating Labor Day
Expressing Concern about the Crackdown on Academic Freedom in Hungary
Flagging Approach of 2020 U.S. Census Deadline on September 30
Announcing $6.3 Million in Community Development Housing Grants
Supporting Restaurant and Entertainment Venue Workers
Announcing Grant Supporting Sickle Cell Disease Surveillance
Announcing Aging Grant to St. Jude
Remembering My Friend Curtis Person
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week


Expressing Concern Over Attorney General Barr’s Vote-Suppression Tactics

Last Friday, I wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking him to correct a false statement he made on national television about mail-in voting fraud. The Attorney General must base his decisions on facts and fairly enforce the law.  Barr’s purposeful distortions of the safety and security of our election system are dangerous and undermine our democracy. See my letter to Barr here.

Clarifying Voting Procedures

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.  

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. 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 request an absentee ballot but do not receive or return your ballot in time, 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 it by mail 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. 

Writing Secretary Mnuchin with Concerns about Paycheck Protection Program

On Friday, I wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking that he reconsider blanket loan forgiveness for recipients of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program after both the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service identified egregious instances of fraud. I reminded Mnuchin of his public testimony on the issue of loan forgiveness and asked, in light of the fraud concerns, whether he has reversed his position. See my letter here.

Celebrating Labor Day

On Monday, I hope everyone got a well-deserved day off to celebrate Labor Day and the traditional end of summer. These are trying times for essential workers, those thrown out of work by the pandemic and those who are working from home. Keep up the good work.

Expressing Concern about the Crackdown on Academic Freedom in Hungary

On Wednesday, as a senior member of the Helsinki Commission, which has monitored the evolution of democratic institutions in Eastern Europe, I wrote to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to condemn his government’s crackdown on academic freedom. See my letter here.

Flagging Approach of 2020 U.S. Census Deadline on September 30

There are now just 19 days before the current deadline to fill out the every-ten-year head count mandated by the Constitution, which provides an accurate measure of the population for federal benefits and political representation. I urge you to find and fill out the U.S. Census form as soon as possible. Your community is counting on you. If you need help filling out your Census questionnaire, call the help line at (844) 330-2020. 

Announcing $6.3 Million in Community Development Housing Grants

This week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced significant Community Development Block Grant program awards to Memphis and Shelby County. While I continue my work to improve the funding formula by which these grants are calculated, I am pleased to see our community receive these grants. See my release about them here.

Supporting Restaurant and Entertainment Venue Workers

On Thursday, I spoke virtually remotely at a press conference organized by my friend Congressman Jim Cooper of Nashville in favor of four bills we support to help restaurant workers and employees of entertainment venues weather the economic impact of the pandemic. The bills are the Save Our Stages Act, the RESTART Act, the RESTAURANTS Act, and the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Acts.

Announcing Grant Supporting Sickle Cell Disease Surveillance

On Wednesday, I announced that the University of Memphis will receive a significant grant from the National Institutes of Health to monitor sickle cell disease, which disproportionately affects Black Americans. See my release here.

Announcing Aging Grant to St. Jude

Also Wednesday, I announced a $4.9 million National Institute on Aging grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. See that release here.

Remembering My Friend Curtis Person

I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and long-time colleague former state Senator Curtis Person, known for his smile, cheerfulness and dedication to the interests of children, with whom I served for 24 years. His was a life well-lived.

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

“I was basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid, strategically jeopardizing our place in the world and everything else, that’s when I quit…He’s dangerous. He’s unfit.” – Retired Marine Corps General and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, quoted describing President Trump in Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, Rage.

As always, I remain.
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress