Making Democracy Work

Encouraging Informed and Active Participation of Citizens in Government

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

The following materials have been developed by the LWVTN Action Committee. They have been designed to aid League members and Tennessee voters in preparation for the November 4, 2014 state and federal general election. The ballot will include four Tennessee Constitutional Amendments. Please use this package of documents to become a more informed voter and share them widely with your family, friends, neighbors, and communities.

1. Vote NO on Amendment #1 to the Tennessee Constitution "Shall Article 1, of the Tennessee Constitution be amended by adding the following language as a new appropriately designated section: 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."

2. Vote YES on Amendment #2 to the Tennessee Constitution "Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:

"Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article."

3. Vote NO on Amendment #3 to the Tennessee Constitution "Shall Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the final substantive paragraph within the section:

"Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax."

4. Amendment #4 to the Tennessee Constitution: The League of Women Voters of Tennessee does not have a position on this amendment. "Shall Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the following language:

"All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) organization located in this state, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code or as may be amended from time to time.

"and by substituting instead the following language:

"All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(19) organization, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code, located in this state."

The National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), is partnering with LWVTN and a few other state Leagues in key states, as well as other organizations throughout the country, in connection with its new voter education initiative on the courts and election of judges. The project is called NAWJ Informed Voters--Fair Judges Project. This film, Fair and Free features former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and streamed online January 15, 2014.

From Nashville's President...

As Tennesseans face the confusing array of constitutional amendments in the upcoming November election, community groups are turning to the League for help understanding exactly what it all means. This past month, I have had the opportunity to talk about the amendments and share LWVTN's position statements at meetings organized by Walk/Bike Nashville, the Wilson County Democratic Women, and the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. Voter Service Director Jo Singer and I also provided information and voter registration forms at the Foster Community Center Fair. The resources on our website at http://www.lwvnashville.org provide additional background information for those who want to delve deeper into these issues. And, of course, http://www.Vote411.org has nonpartisan information about both the amendments and the candidates.

The four ballot initiatives to amend the Tennessee Constitution that voters will see on November 4 are important, complex, and of enduring impact. Please share League positions widely with others. Remind them that in order for any constitutional amendment to be approved, two things must happen: 1) The amendment must get more "yes" votes than "no" votes; and 2) The number of "yes" votes must be a majority of the total aggregate of votes cast in the gubernatorial election.

As a reminder of what happens when legislation has a detrimental impact in our state we only need to look back two years. In 2012, the League was dismayed when the state legislature passed voter ID laws. The contention of proponents was that the laws would safeguard elections. The League and our partners contended that voter impersonation was virtually nonexistent and, further, the new photo ID requirements would unfairly disenfranchise voters in Tennessee. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is the investigative arm of Congress, released a 206-page report this week that bears out our concerns through an analysis of turnout statistics from six states, including Tennessee at http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665966.pdf. Articles in the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/09/gao-voter-id-laws-in-kansas-and-tennessee-dropped-2012- turnout-by-over-100000-votes/?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1 and the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/09/us/parts-of-north-carolina-law-limiting-vote-are-restored-by-justices.html?module =Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI %3A12%22%7D recount the analysis of voting patterns. According to the Post, a potential additional 88,000 Tennesseans would have voted in 2012 if the new laws had not been in place! Interestingly, voters in the age cluster from 24 to 33, African- Americans, and newly registered voters were the groups that were more likely to see bigger drops in turnout. LWVN will continue to advocate for the voter ID law's repeal while working in collaboration with other organizations to mitigate its impact.

Indeed, Nashvillians--including voter rights advocates Hedy Weinberg, ACLU; Patricia Stokes, Urban League of Middle Tennessee; John Teague, Planned Parenthood; Rev. Judy Cummings, Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship; Matt Mullen, Tennessee Citizen Action; Nick Alexiou, American Constitution Society; Debby Gould, League of Women Voters; Doug Johnston, Barrett, Johnston, Martin & Garrison--gathered on October 15. The message was simple and direct: "Tennessee's voter ID law is an affront to one of `our most fundamental rights,' and impugned the motives of those who supported the law, in light of a new report showing its effects on turnout." (See coverage at: http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2014/10/15/cooper-denounces-voter-id-in-wake-of-gao-report; http://nashvillepublicradio.org/blog/2014/10/15/tennessee-democrats-latch-onto-report-voter-id-suppresses-turnout/; http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/15/advocates-tout-report-linking-voter-law-turnout-drop/17325805/.)

It is useful to reflect that now, as in the past, major cultural change does not happen overnight, but rather 3 LWVN Voter--October 2014 with consistent and persistent effort of those who care deeply.

Beginning in 1914 through 1920 when the final vote in the Tennessee legislature made the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution possible, Tennessee women and men worked to reach this goal. The League has been particularly inspired by the incredible leadership and vision of Nashville's best known suffragette Anne Dallas Dudley. We are thrilled that the honorary chairs for our November 18 Celebration of Women's Right to Vote at the Hermitage Hotel are her daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Jane Dudley Anderson and Trevania Dudley Henderson. Invitations to this exciting celebration are in the mail and reservations can be made at http://lwvnashville.org/2014_annual_meeting.html. Please make plans to be part of this memorable event!

Debby Gould, President League of Women Voters of Nashville

GET INVOLVED WITH THE LEAGUE

WE NEED YOU TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF NASHVILLE

Consistent Voter Services

League members can impact the election process by volunteering to help educate the citizens of the community and provide opportunities for voter registration. Voter education and voter registration opportunities are continuous but peak during election years. Get involved by:

  • Planning and participating in candidate forums
  • Conducting voter registration drives at events such as the All About Women Conference and the Mayor's First Day of School Festival and assist other groups with drives
  • Speaking to groups on the voting process: community associations, schools, and GED classes
  • Working with others, such as the Tennessee Disability Coalition, to ensure access to the polls
  • Serving as poll observers on election days
  • Observing meetings of the Davidson County Election Commission
  • Monitoring and studying the election process
  • Supporting adequate resources for the election process

Strategic and Effective Issue Advocacy

League members can impact public policy by educating the public about issues important to good government and community well-being, and advocating for League positions on key issues. Because we live in the state capital, Nashville League members work on both local and state issues. We also answer calls to action from the LWVUS when issues are pending in Congress. Whatever your interests, you can get involved!

Specifically, the League advocates for access to health care; education to prepare students for responsible citizenry and the economy of the future; good stewardship of our natural resources; election processes that are fair and secure; and ethics and transparency in government. League members interested in issue advocacy can participate by:

  • Educating our members and the community by writing articles in the Voter, submitting op-ed columns, or planning and conducting public forums
  • Advocating for League positions on critical issues by writing or talking to elected officials

The League is a grass roots organization, guided by positions adopted by its members at all three League levels--local, state, and national. To learn more about the issues identified and supported by members, go to our ISSUES Page.

Please tell us how you would like to become involved by calling (615) 297-7134 or sending an email to info@LWVNashville.org or president@LWVNashville.org

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Join the League!

To join the League, click here: Membership to jump to our membership page where you will find our on-line or mail-in membership options. As a member you can serve on one of our committees, volunteer to work a voter registration booth, organize a candidate debate, write letters to your elected officials, work at the polls, etc. We encourage you to let us know your interests and area(s) of expertise. There is plenty to be done and we welcome your participation!

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If you prefer to donate to us without joining our organization, we would appreciate your support. Your donations help the League provide voter services, sponsor forums, participate in community events and be a strong advocate for good government policy.