Haslam on skipping-the-governor’s-race strategy: ‘I obviously don’t like that’

In an editorial on the “nuances of voting in Tennessee,” the Memphis Flyer observes that voting in the governor’s race has become “a conjuring point in strategies for boosting or defeating this or that amendment” to the state Constitution.

If one is dead set against a given amendment, one take on how to defeat it is to make sure to vote in the governor’s race — literally for anyone at all — while going ahead to cast one’s vote on the no side for the displeasing amendment.

The idea is to raise the threshold for the amendment’s success. That’s based on a constitutional formula that is applied specifically to the amendment process. To succeed, an amendment must garner a majority that is equal to or larger than what would constitute a majority of those voting in the race for governor.

Conversely, one might avoid voting for governor altogether if the aim is to lower the threshold for a favored amendment. The logic of these strategies is more than a little abstruse, a bit like Martian algebra, but the mechanics of it all, either way, seem simple enough. The real question is whether it is desirable to admit that much cynicism into the voting process.

Understandably, Haslam, when asked last week about this manner of consciously linking a pro or con vote on an amendment to one’s choice in the governor’s race, said, “I obviously don’t like that.”

We’re not sure we’re crazy about such a strategy, either, realistic as it may be.

But we’re more concerned, frankly, about another, more prevalent way of influencing the voting process… the requirement, built into state law as of 2012, that anyone desiring to vote must provide a government-issued ID bearing a photograph…. While the law has had little or no effect on voter fraud, what it and a similar law in Kansas have done, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is to suppress the vote among black and younger voters, for a variety of reasons having to do with a proportionally lower possession of photo IDs among those demographic groups.