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New On Tennessee’s Absentee Ballot Request Form: A Reward For Those Reporting Voter Fraud

Chas Sisk | WPLN

As people start requesting absentee ballots, some Tennessee voters have noticed something unusual: The bottom part of the form published by the Secretary of State has a notice saying voters could receive a reward if they report a case of voter fraud.

The notice is highlighted in yellow. It says, “You may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 if you make a report of voter fraud that leads to a conviction.” It also gives the number of the state’s voter fraud hotline.

Frosty Horton, a 69-year-old musician from Nashville, noticed it.

“It’s threatening,” Horton said. “And I don’t mean to sound paranoid about it. I just — my trust level is at a fairly low place.”

Horton has cancer and recently requested an absentee ballot for the November election. The reward information surprised him. He blames unfounded doubts about absentee voting spread by President Donald Trump.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office says that, in previous years, the absentee ballot form has had a felony notice. But Julia Bruck, a spokeswoman with the agency, confirms this is the first time a reward amount is spelled out on the document.

“It’s important all voters trust the integrity of our election process. The Tennessee General assembly has supported our efforts to increase voter participation while creating safeguards to protect election integrity,” Bruck said in an email. “Still, the eyes and ears of voters play a vital role in preserving the sanctity of the voting process.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.
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