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What Tennesseans need to know about the proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 8 ballot

Secretary of State Tre Hargett wants voters to know about the four proposed Constitutional amendments on the Nov. 8 State and Federal General Election ballot and the process for amendments to pass in Tennessee.

The four proposed amendments to the Tennessee Constitution on the Nov. 8 ballot:

  1. An amendment to Article XI, of the Constitution of Tennessee, relative to the right to work.
  2. An amendment to Article II and Article III of the Constitution of Tennessee, relative to the exercise of the powers and duties of the Governor during disability.
  3. An amendment to Article I, Section 33 of the Constitution of Tennessee, to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude.
  4. An amendment to Article IX, of the Constitution of Tennessee, relative to disqualifications.

“Our Tennessee Constitution is the foundation of our state government and this November, there will be four proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot,” said Secretary Hargett. “It’s important for voters to not only know what these proposed amendments are but also understand how amendments become part of our Constitution so they can make informed voting decisions.”

In Tennessee, proposed Constitutional amendments are presented as yes or no questions on the ballot. A yes vote is a vote to amend the Constitution and adopt the proposed language in the amendment. A no vote is a vote not to amend the Constitution and keep the current language in the Constitution unchanged.

Two things must happen for an amendment to pass and become part of the Constitution. The first is the amendment must get more yes votes than no votes. The second is that the number of yes votes must be a majority of the total votes in the gubernatorial election. Tennessee’s longstanding process to determine the results for proposed Constitutional amendments was confirmed by a court decision following the 2014 general election.

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To determine the number of votes needed to adopt a proposed Constitutional amendment, votes for all candidates for governor are added together and then divided by two. If there are more yes votes than no votes on the proposed amendment and the number of yes votes exceeds 50% +1 of the total votes for governor, the amendment passes and becomes part of the Constitution. The Constitutional amendment fails if the number of yes votes does not meet or exceed the threshold or if there are more no votes than yes votes.

Although the number of votes cast for governor is used to determine the threshold for a proposed Constitutional amendment to pass, it is not necessary to vote in the governor’s race to vote on the Constitutional amendments. Likewise, it is not necessary to vote on any of the amendments to vote in the governor’s race.

On the ballot, voters will see the candidates for governor, followed directly by the four proposed amendments. After the proposed Constitutional amendments, voters will have the opportunity to vote for candidates for the United States House of Representatives and the county’s remaining offices on the general election ballot.

To see the exact language for the proposed Constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot, including a summary of each amendment written by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, visit sos.tn.gov/amendments.

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