The House approved 75-20 Thursday a bill that declares the United Nations cannot monitor elections in Tennessee.
Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, characterized the bill (HB2410) as an assertion of the state and nation’s sovereignty, saying he was upset that a United Nations affiliate organization sent two representatives – one from France and one from Armenia – to monitor Tennessee elections because the state had enacted a law requiring a photo identification for voting.
“I don’t believe it’s their jurisdiction to monitor us,” he said in a floor speech.
Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, made similar comments and told Van Huss “I applaud your patriotism.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville was the only person speaking against the bill, saying it could hamper election observations by people from “emerging countries” and “Tennessee should be at the forefront of promoting democracy around the world.”
Van Huss said he would have no objection to an individual country sending representatives to “observe” a Tennessee election, but objects to UN “monitoring.”
The sponsor proposed similar legislation last year (HB589) that was killed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee after being referred there on motion of Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol.
In the floor vote Thursday, all no votes came from Democrats. Lundberg did not vote on the bill.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. It is scheduled for a Senate State and Local Government Committee vote next week.
As amended on the House floor, the bill now states:
“Any representative of the United Nations appearing without a treaty ratified by the United States senate stating that the United Nations can monitor elections in this state, shall not monitor elections in this state.”