Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With nearly all precincts reporting, support for all four constitutional amendments on the Tennessee ballot was outstripping opposition.
The most hard-fought of all the amendments was also the closest, with about 54 percent of voters supporting a change to the Tennessee Constitution that would give lawmakers more power to regulate abortions.
Shelby County voter Angela Goekler said she voted for Amendment 1 on Tuesday out of concerns about the safety of facilities that provide abortions.
“I don’t want to see somebody get in a situation where they’re in a place that’s not licensed or not regulated and end up having problems, because you’re putting the mother’s life at risk also,” she said.
Williamson County voter Barbara Lamb voted against the amendment.
“I remember back in the time before Roe versus Wade, with the coat hangers and all of that horrible stuff. I think this is moving us back before Roe v. Wade,” she said.
Both supporters and opponents of the four constitutional changes have expressed concerns that the language of amendments could confuse voters.
“My gosh, I’m very close to having my Ph.D. and it’s very hard to read those things,” Britnie Kane, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College said after voting Tuesday.
Kane said she voted against the abortion amendment.
“I ended up voting no because I am not comfortable giving the Legislature control over reproductive rights,” she said.
Voter James Patton, who works in the health care industry, agreed that understanding the aims of the amendments requires some research on the part of voters. Patton said he voted in favor of the abortion amendment, arguing that it would allow state lawmakers to establish common-sense regulations for a medical procedure.
“It’s something I’m very passionate about,” he said.
Here’s a look at the remaining three amendments:
JUDICIAL SELECTION: Existing language in the state constitution says Supreme Court justices “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.” But since 1994, they have been appointed by the governor, followed by yes-no retention votes. The proposed amendment before voters Tuesday would write the current process into the constitution — with the addition of giving state lawmakers the power to reject gubernatorial appointments. About 62 percent were voting in favor.
INCOME TAX BAN: While the last serious attempt to impose a state income tax in Tennessee occurred a dozen years ago, some lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment to ban the levy forever. The public backlash against the 2002 effort to impose a state income tax led several supporters to retire from office or to lose their re-election campaigns. About 67 percent of voters were supporting it.
LOTTERY-VETERANS: Veterans groups are hoping voters approve a proposed amendment to allow them to hold charitable gaming fundraisers. A 2002 constitutional amendment that created a state lottery for college scholarships dictated which groups could hold raffles and cakewalks. Veterans groups were left out. About 70 percent of voters were supporting the amendment.