Friday, November 14, 2014

Suit Challenges Vote Counting On Tennessee Pro-Life Amendment

Tennessee voters this month voted on a proposed state constitutional amendment providing:
Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
In preliminary results, state election officials reported that the measure passed 728,751 in favor and 656,427 opposed.  However, the Memphis Flyer reports that in an attempt to prevent the measure from taking effect, a group of pro-choice voters have filed suit in federal district court challenging the state's vote-counting procedure.

Tennessee Constitution, Art. XI, Sec. 3, provides that amendments need to be approved "by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor."  Plaintiffs claim that this is more than a requirement for a certain number of total votes.  They say election officials must actually match ballots and count only votes from voters who also voted for Governor. Supporters of the ballot measure this year had urged their backers to vote for the Amendment, but not vote for governor, in order to magnify the effect of their vote.  Apparently many did this because some 32,500 more votes in total were cast for or against the amendment that in the governor's race.