Judge rules votes correctly counted on Amendment 1

a Williamson County judge on Thursday has ruled against contentions that ballots were incorrectly counted in the 2014 statewide referendum on an amendment to the Tennessee constitution that made it easier for the legislature to enact abortion restrictions.

From The Tennessean report:

Eight voters opposing the measure, including the board chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle & Eastern Tennessee, filed suit in federal court contesting the state’s method of counting votes.

State lawyers, in turn, filed suit against those eight voters in a Williamson County court in September 2015, two months after a federal judge refused their request to dismiss the suit. The state in the Williamson County suit sought an order stating that Tennessee election officials’ method of counting votes was consistent with the state constitution.

In his 22-page order on Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley granted the state the order it was seeking. Binkley noted the language Tennessee Constitution on how votes for amendments should be counted is “unambiguous.”

Under the Tennessee Constitution, ballot measures require a different voting method than the simple majority required to elect a candidate. For an amendment to succeed, it must be ratified “by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor,” the Constitution says.

State election officials have long interpreted the language to mean that passage of an amendment depends on comparing the number of votes cast for governor with the number of votes cast for an amendment. To succeed, an amendment must get a majority of the number of votes cast for governor.

Voters challenging the measure say that the language means that only the voters who voted in the governor’s race can have their vote’s counted on a ballot measure.

It was a contention that Binkley dismissed, noting in his ruling that the Tennessee Constitution “does not precondition the right of a citizen to vote for or against a constitutional amendment upon that citizen also voting in a gubernatorial election.”