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Tennessee vote-by-mail case ruling expected next week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge expects to rule next Thursday on whether to order a temporary injunction to let all voters cast ballots by mail in the August primary due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle set the deadline during a video conference hearing Thursday that she rescheduled for next Wednesday.

The lawsuit argues universal vote by mail eliminates risk of catching COVID-19 at the polls or unknowingly spreading it. State officials say they "cannot feasibly implement" a quick shift to let all voters cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 elections.

Lyle will weigh whether to order the temporary injunction of more than a dozen excuses to qualify to vote absentee in Tennessee in the August primary. Those range from being sick to being 60 or older.

The hearing will include discussion on two similar state court lawsuits that seek vote by mail for all in the August and November elections: One filed by Memphis-based voting rights group #UpTheVote901 and several voters, and another led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Campaign Legal Center have also sued in federal court seeking absentee voting for all voters this year.

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