Advocates of defeating any of the four constitutional amendments on the November ballot are pushing Tennesseans to also cast a vote for governor – any candidate will do. The motivation springs from a state law linking the fate of the amendments to the total votes for governor.
Even amendment supporters admit it’s sort of confusing for voters to understand: in order for an amendment to pass, it needs to get a majority of the total votes cast in the governor’s race. The law requires a majority by just one vote.
To over-simplify it, if 100 people cast a vote for governor, an amendment needs at least 51 “yes” votes to pass. The more people who vote for governor, the higher the bar is set for an amendment to pass. Conversely, if you don’t vote for governor, you’re making it easier for an amendment to pass.
So it comes as no surprise that advocates like Debby Gould of the League of Women Voters – who are opposed to Amendment 1 – are asking all their supporters to vote for governor so that it’s harder for the measure to succeed.
“This is an election cycle where there might be more people who sit out of a governor’s race than normal,” Gould said. “We don’t know that. It’s just that we know there are people who have been surprised by this and didn’t know there was a linkage.”
It’s still undecided whether writing in a candidate for governor will count toward the total. Blake Fontenay, spokesman with the Secretary of State’s Office, said they are expecting a decision from the Tennessee Attorney General on that question.