Cost of abortion vote recount put at $1M

Election officials estimate the total cost to taxpayers of a court-ordered recount of Amendment 1, the 2014 abortion ballot measure, could be $1 million, according to The Tennessean.

But lawyers for the state are asking U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp to allow election officials to postpone any recount while they appeal his ruling.

Requiring county election officials to go through a recount process while preparing for upcoming state, local and federal elections in August and November would be “disruptive” and “interfere with the integrity of those elections,” election officials argued in declarations submitted to the court earlier this month.

In April, Sharp ordered a recount of the state’s controversial ballot measure, calling the method used to count votes “fundamentally unfair” to voters opposed to the measure.

Amendment 1 passed with 53 percent of the vote. The measure specifically removed the right to an abortion from the Tennessee Constitution. Its passage has led to new regulations of abortion clinics and a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

Within days of the election, however, eight voters opposed to the measure, including the board chairman of Planned Parenthood of Middle & Eastern Tennessee, filed suit, claiming the vote tabulation methods used by election officials violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution — and was contrary to language in the Tennessee Constitution that explains how votes for ballot measures should be counted.

Sharp’s order required election officials to count only those votes for or against the amendment that were cast by voters who also voted in the governor’s race.

Unlike a simple majority required for a candidate to succeed, the Tennessee Constitution requires amendments to pass by a majority of the votes cast in the governor’s race.

Sharp concluded that the language in the Tennessee Constitution require voters to vote in both races in order to have their votes counted for or against an amendment.