TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Voters in Tennessee will see four proposed amendments to the state constitution on their ballots this election season. Election officials are warning voters some of those amendments are lengthy and are advising people to do their research before heading to the polls.
Amendment 1 – Right to Work
The first amendment would add the state’s right-to-work law to the constitution. According to the Secretary of State’s website, this would add a section to the Tennessee Constitution to make it illegal to deny or attempt to deny employment to a person in Tennessee employment for their affiliation or lack thereof with any labor union or employee organization.
A “yes” vote on Amendment 1 would add the right to work to the constitution, while a “no” vote would not.
Amendment 2 – Line of Succession
The second proposal would establish a temporary line of succession for the governor were they unable to perform their duties. Currently, the State of Tennessee does not have a line of succession established. If passed, Amendment 2 would establish the Speaker of the Senate as next in command. If that position is empty, the role would go to the Speaker of the House.
A “yes” vote would establish a line of succession, while a “no” vote would leave the state without a line of succession if the governor were not able to complete their duties temporarily.
Amendment 3 – Slavery
The third amendment proposal would prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude. Currently, the Tennessee Constitution states slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited “except as a punishment for a person convicted by due process of the law.” That section would be removed and replaced with “slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”
“Unfortunately, the state of Tennessee still has this mention of slavery as use for punishment in the state of Tennessee,” said Jennifer Mongold, associate professor at King University. “It has not been used for many years, but it has not been removed until now. A group of our state politicians with bipartisan support would like to see this mention of slavery removed from our constitution forever and completely.”
A “yes” vote on the third amendment would abolish slavery, and a “no” vote would leave the exception.
Amendment 4 – Religious Officials
Finally, the fourth proposed amendment would remove a section from the constitution that prohibits religious leaders of any denomination from holding seats in either house of the state legislature.
A “yes” vote would allow religious leaders to hold these positions, and “no” vote would continue to prevent religious leaders from holding these offices.
Yes or No?
These amendments will be presented as yes or no questions. A “yes” vote would amend the constitution, while a “no” vote would leave the current language in the constitution unchanged.
For amendments to be made, a majority of “yes” votes must be received. Those “yes” votes must exceed 50% of the votes in the gubernatorial election. The amendment fails if the “yes” votes do not meet those thresholds.
For the exact language of each of the amendments, visit the Secretary of State’s website.
Early voting lasts from Wednesday, Oct. 19 through Thursday, Nov. 3. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
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