Category Archives: Ballot Initiatives

Constitutional supremacy

Tom Humphrey’s Sunday column argues that the November 2014 election will be all about the four proposed amendments to the Tennessee Constitution. It’s not far-fetched. There’s not even a gubernatorial race happening (to speak of), and he’s right about the primary elections settling most other matters.

I have to confess that I wasn’t even aware of the amendment affecting veterans groups’ rights to host gambling events until today. It’s a good thing we have a year to become more informed.

Ketron and wine

Sen. Bill Ketron penned an op-ed in his local paper in which he describes legislation that attempts to both satisfy the majority of Tennesseans who want wine sales in grocery stores and placate those who are against the change: put the matter to a local referendum vote.

Here’s how it works: if you’re in a community that already allows either package stores or liquor-by-the-drink (or both), and you want your area to vote on whether to allow wine sales in retail food stores, first you have a petition hurdle to cross. The threshold Ketron lays out is 10 percent of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election. Then and only then would the matter be placed on the ballot in the next general election for voters to decide.

For example, in Hamilton County there were 87,281 votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election. As I understand it, if Ketron’s bill were to become law, a petition drive would need to successfully gather 8,728 valid signatures in order to include the referendum in the state’s next general election, which is on November 4, 2014. Then a simple majority could authorize the sales.

Question remaining: if citizens of a county were to approve the referendum, are all municipalities within that county’s borders opted-in automatically, or would each municipality be required to hold its own petition drive and vote?

Ketron’s bill and its House companion ostensibly stand a better chance in the upcoming session than ever before, since Rep. Matthew Hill, who effectively killed the bill earlier this year as part of an intra-caucus spat over a completely different piece of legislation, now indicates that he would support it.

Extreme makeover: recall edition

On November 6, 2012, Chattanooga voters opted to amend their city charter by repealing one section and inserting new language having to do with recalling an elected official.

Or, put another way, Chattanooga voters simply made official what a state appellate court has already decided: that the requirements pertaining to validation of petition signatures have been set by the Legislature.

Several provisions in Chattanooga’s recall procedure were out of line with state law, but the one change that motivated this amendment—from requiring 50% of the number of voters in the last election to requiring 15% of registered voters—is one of two* pieces the state statute leaves flexible. Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-5-151 (j) carves out the ability for qualified municipalities to set their own numeric thresholds, if they enact or amend charters after June 1997.

Do you feel like you just went in a circle? Hold tight and get something to clench your teeth on, because this post is going to get wonk-y. Continue reading

New for November, the Nooga voter guides has again collaborated with to produce voter guides for the 2012 election in Hamilton County, Tennessee.* Click the logo to get started.

The guides include the following races and ballot measures:

  • President & Vice President
  • U.S. Senate
  • U.S. House – District 3
  • U.S. House – District 4


  • State Senate – District 10
  • State House – District 26
  • State House – District 27
  • State House – District 28
  • State House – District 29
  • State House – District 30


  • Chattanooga City Charter

*Note: voters outside Hamilton County but in Tennessee can find all their state and federal candidates listed right here on the Tennessee Ticket voter guides.

Tennessee House
Tennessee Senate
U.S. House
U.S. Senate

The Tennessee House page is still being updated from August, and I’ll post another announcement when it’s finished.

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.