Home Local News Election day is November 8

Election day is November 8

Confusion over votes in Congressional District 5 and 7 loom

by PRIDE Newsdesk
November 8 is Election Day.  Amid confusion in Congressional District 7, voters are encouraged to verify their voting district.

Election day is November 8 for the state and federal General Election. The last day for early voting was Thursday, November 3. 

Tennesseans can find Election Day hours, polling locations, view and mark sample ballots, and much more with the Secretary of State’s <GoVoteTN.gov> website or <GoVoteTN app>. Voters can also download the <GoVoteTN app> for free in the App Store or Google Play.

It is important that voters, especially those who have voted in the past in Tennessee’s 5th or 7th Congressional Districts, to verify where they vote.

According to election officials, some voters have cast ballots in the wrong congressional district in Nashville—a consequence of gerrymandering that took place after lawmakers carved Nashville into three districts during redistricting. Interactive maps from the Comptroller’s Office and the Legislature suggest some voters live and vote in congressional district 7; however, upon voting, those voters discovered that the Secretary of State’s office lists them as in TN-06.

There are also reports of incorrect ballots being given out in District 5 as well.

According to Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts, an unknown number of voters have cast ballots in the wrong congressional race.”

“At this point in time, there’s no way for us to know the ballots that were cast, who cast those ballots,” Roberts said. “We can’t undo what has already been done out there.

“We always recommend Election Day voters check the Polling Place Finder at <Nashville.gov/vote> or use <GoVoteTN.gov>, so they are sure to arrive at their assigned polling location to vote. This is especially important if the last time they voted was in the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Odessa Kelly, U.S. House candidate for District 7 is urging voters to cast their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their votes will be counted. 

“Whether this is blatant incompetence or purposeful deceit, the end result is the same: voter suppression,” said Kelly.

Voters need to bring valid photo identification to the polls. A driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee state government, or the federal government is acceptable even if expired. A student ID or out-of-state driver’s license is not acceptable. For more information about what types of IDs are permitted, visit <GoVoteTN.gov>.

On the ballot are four Constitutional Amendments.  In Tennessee, proposed Constitutional Amendments are presented as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions on the ballot. A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to amend the Constitution and adopt the proposed language in the amendment. A ‘no’ vote is a vote not to amend the Constitution and keep the current language in the Constitution unchanged.

Two things must happen for an amendment to pass and become part of the Constitution. The first is the amendment must get more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’ votes. The second is that the number of ‘yes’ votes must be a majority of the total votes in the gubernatorial election.

Amendment 1 is known as the ‘right to work’ amendment.  The Amendment would add a new section to the Tennessee Constitution to make it illegal for workplaces to require mandatory labor union membership for employees as a condition for employment.

The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R).

According to Kelsey: “The Tennessee right-to-work law states that workers cannot be hired or fired, or in any way discriminated against based on whether or not they are a member of a union. I think that this right is an important enough civil right that it belongs in our state constitution.”

It was passed during the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions largely along party lines, with Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Scotty Campbell joining Democrats in the minority.

Sen. Sara Kyle (D), who opposed the measure, said: “Right-to-work is a false slogan. The true effect of this legislation is to destroy the freedom and power of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining has lifted millions of workers out of poverty and provided families with health care and dignity in retirement. That gives big corporations the upper hand.”

The amendment most likely makes it harder for workers to unionize.

Amendment 2 provides for emergency succession planning should the governor become medically incapacitated and unable to perform his duties. The amendment allows the lieutenant governor to run the state until the governor can re-assume his duties.

Amendment 3 removes the slavery exception language from the State Constitution. Currently the Tennessee Constitution reads: “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited by this State.” If Amendment 3 passes on November 8, the ‘exception language’ will be removed and replaced with the following language: “That slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited in this State. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”

Amendment four removes an unenforced clause that prohibits members of the clergy from holding office in the Tennessee General Assembly. 

To see the exact language for the proposed Constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot, visit <sos.tn.gov/amendments>.

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