State elections officials say they do not know how people who voted on the governor’s race voted on Amendment 1 in light of a lawsuit arguing that the constitution requires a vote on both to change Tennessee’s guiding document.
Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said compiling those numbers would require a “very tedious” manual recount, but said his office is researching what would be needed should the courts demand it of the state.
“I don’t think we ever get to that point,” said Goins, who said the state has interpreted the constitution the same way since it was rewritten in 1953. “The only difference here is you've got someone who's trying to get a federal judge to come in and overthrow what the people really want.”
Opponents of Amendment 1 — which gives abortion protections previously found in the constitution to the legislature — filed a federal lawsuit over the weekend charging the constitution requires voters to cast a ballot for both the governor’s race and an amendment in order for their vote to edit the constitution to count.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees the elections agency, argues several amendments have been adopted in Tennessee since the constitution was rewritten in 1953 with little problem under the interpretation that skipping a vote for governor would not disqualify the amendment’s chances. No court case has opined on the issue.
“I can’t believe that we would tell Tennesseans that you can’t amend your constitution if you don’t vote in the governor’s race,” said Hargett, who is pictured here.
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