By KIMBERLEE KRUESI
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal judge handed down tough criticism on Tennessee's new restrictions for signing up voters while refusing to dismiss a legal challenge surrounding the new law set to take effect in October.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled Monday that the law would likely create a "chilling effect" on organizations and individuals who seek to register new voters in Tennessee.

The new law is likely the first nationally to fine groups for too many incomplete registration forms. It includes misdemeanor charges for other intentional infractions of new rules. It says only paid groups could be penalized, though the legal filing contends the distinction is unclear.

Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett has argued adding penalties bolsters election security. His office didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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