Introducing the all-new August 2012 Voter Guide

Since 2006, when another blogger and I collaborated to bring you “Battle for the General Assembly” (a guide to that year’s state legislative races), this site has sought ways to pool resources in an effort to bring you the most comprehensive and usable information about your ballot.

In partnership with

This year, I am happy to announce a partnership with to provide Chattanooga and Hamilton County voters with a comprehensive* voter guide for the upcoming August election. I want it to be clear that Nooga’s managing editor and political reporter have put in the lion’s share of the work on it, but that I did contribute significantly.

In addition, I remain committed to the statewide project that comprises the pages below:

Thank you for doing you civic duty: not only voting, but doing your best to find your best fit among the candidates and ballot questions. Continue to let me know how I can increase the value this site brings.

*I realize that, at the moment, the judicial retention questions are not yet included. I’m working on those.

Not married to the party, just Dayton

WRCB’s Jonquil Newland on Monday reported that there is either a coordinated crossover conspiracy in Rhea County’s state House election, or there is a coordinated effort by election workers to zealously thwart what they perceive as a stealth crossover plan.

The TBI’s findings may be interesting, but in the meantime, can we just let people vote? There is no way to tell whether or not a citizen has had a sudden—or slow-building—change of heart. We don’t need the political thought police enforcing a false sense of partisan purity. This is true in GOP primaries in Rhea County, or Democratic primaries in, say, Clarksville.

When people have a choice as to who speaks for them in government, let them make it. It’s not healthy to allow a single group to dictate a region’s representation.

Else we could close primaries and take them off the taxpayers’ bill. Let parties vet their own nominees. Or we could implement a “top two” system. There are other options.

Or maybe we could just brand people on the forehead with a ‘D’ or an ‘R’. Better yet: do it at birth.

A little trouble in Big Shelby

The news reports out of Memphis and its surrounding area have gotten progressively worse since early voting started on Friday. Voters have recounted several problems at the polls.

The latest account is confessed by a self-described West Tennessee Liberal, and provides helpful maps and other data to show that the information shown on the ballot did not match any other official record.

When you vote, whether it’s early or on Election Day (August 2nd), please take note of what your choices are. If they don’t look right to you, don’t cast the ballot. [EDIT 7/18: A Shelby County Election Commissioner writes: “Voters should confirm their precinct and then verify that they have received the correct ballot by checking in the upper left hand side of the screen on the voting machine. If they do not have the correct ballot, they should not go forward by pushing any buttons, but rather should get the attention of the precinct officer. The officer can void that ballot and have another card made for the correct ballot right then.”] [I maintain that you may also want to c]ontact your county election commission; and you may also contact me or another member of the press.

This is a serious issue, since not being offered the right ballot is, in some ways, tantamount to not being offered one at all.

UPDATE: Much more from blogger-turned-county commission candidate Steve Ross, via KnoxViews. And I should tip my hat for the Liberal post linked above to Steve Steffens.

UPDATE 2: Here are parts of a Twitter conversation that started after this post was published, in which some alternative viewpoints on the root of the problem are discussed.

A grave mistake?

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the Weston Wamp campaign was asked to take down a campaign ad by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs because it contained unauthorized footage of the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

The same ad, titled “Congratulations Congress,” features music by a local band, and some have asked (either directly or through internet search engines) whether the campaign received permission to use the song “All This Just for a Melody.”

While members of Land Camera declined to go on the record regarding the song’s placement in the ad, I have learned that Fancy Rhino did, in fact, appropriately license the music.

What is not clear now is how much the ad’s removal due to the cemetery footage mistake will impact future royalties that would have been due the musicians.

It’s a tad easier being Green

For the first* time in recent memory (1968, if I read my history right**), voters in some Tennessee legislative districts will see a party label next to candidates’ names other than (DEM) or (REP). Over objections from attorneys for the State of Tennessee (why?), a federal judge ruled former ballot access restrictions unconstitutional, and granted the Constitution Party of Tennessee and Green Party of Tennessee ballot access.

(For reasons unknown to me, even though the Libertarian Party of Tennessee was a plaintiff in the original lawsuit that challenged ballot access laws, it did not join the other two parties in the latest round of appeals, the ruling on which granted automatic ballot access to the two plaintiffs based on their prior organizing efforts.)

The state Green Party held its convention in Nashville in May of this year and nominated several candidates for state and federal office.

Since the party chose its candidates via convention, these names won’t be on the upcoming August primary ballot, but will appear in the general election along with other parties’ nominees and independent candidates in November.

I’ll be adding the names and related info to the respective voter guide pages (or awesome new capability that replaces them) soon.

*In the 2000 election, some minor president/vice president candidate tickets were given a party label, but this was not considered full statewide ballot access for those parties.

**According to Wikipedia, the last “third” party with fully recognized ballot access in Tennessee was the American Independent Party, later named the American Party, which ran George Wallace for president in 1968. Third party access therefore literally has not been seen in my lifetime, until now. (I was born just after the November 1968 election.)