School Vote Constitutionality Trial Set For September
(Memphis) Early voting in Shelby County began today.
Among the biggest issues on the ballot is the referendum facing voters in the county’s six municipalities.
Each suburb is deciding if it should form its own school district.
Today, we found out it may be late September before a federal judge will decide if the state law allowing for municipal school districts is constitutional.
That will be well after voters have already spoken.
Voters going to the polls to cast ballots in the municipal elections could see this election thrown out and voided.
That’s because this is one case where they do not have the last word.
Federal Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays set September 4th and 5th aside to hear from lawyers in a case that will decide if the Tennessee state law allowing for municipal school districts is constitutional.
The Shelby county commission filed the lawsuit against the suburbs saying the state law only benefits Shelby county and is racially discriminatory.
”The state statute is unconstitutional. that’s my client’s position,” said Leo Bearman, lawyer for Shelby Co. Commission.
There are a battery of lawyers ready to prove him wrong.
They represent Germantown, Collierville, Bartlett, Lakeland, Arlington and Millington and the state of Tennessee.
However, if they aren’t convincing enough, Judge Mays has promised he’ll void the election and its results even though voters will have already spoken.
“If the court reaches the decision that the statutes have some constitutional infirmities he’ll have no hesitancy in saying well you’ve had your election but you had no right to have that election so I’m going to set aside the results of it,” said Tom Cates, lawyer for municipalities.
“You’ve seen elections occur before where the underline statute was declared unconstitutional after the election was conducted and the actions of the voters are nullified in accordance to the constitution,” said John Ryder, lawyer for Shelby Co. Election Commission.
One highly controversial example is civil unions.
Californians allowed same sex couples to marry but the federal courts declared the law unconstitutional halting all future marriages.
Judge Mays can make a similar ruling.
“He can stop everything in its tracks,” said Cates.
It’s not just a judge that can void an election.
The state senate voided the special 2006 senate election of Ophelia Ford when she ran against Terry Roland because they found dead people and felons voting.
She ran in the regular election that same year and won.
In Tennessee, in addition to being a registered vote, you will need a valid photo ID.
Acceptable Photo IDs for Voting: Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired:
- Tennessee drivers license with your photo
- United States Passport
- Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
- Photo ID issued by the federal or ANY state government
- United States Military photo ID
- State-issued handgun carry permit with your photo
Photo IDs NOT Accepted for Voting: College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal or a state government are NOT acceptable.
For a complete detailing of the Tennessee State http://www.tn.gov/sos/election/photoID.htm
Absentee Option for Age 60+: The absentee voting law and requirements in Tennessee changed in 2012 to allow anyone 60 years of age or older to request and vote absentee. This means that someone who is 60+ who decides to not obtain a photo ID or who for some reason is unable to obtain a photo ID, can still vote as long as they are registered.
Voters are reminded that written requests for an absentee ballot should be sent to the Shelby County Election Commission at 980 Nixon Drive, Memphis, TN 38134. Requests for an absentee ballot are accepted no more than ninety (90) days and not less than seven (7) days before an election. Applications must be in the office seven (7) days before any election, and requests or applications received after this deadline must be rejected. This means, to vote in the Aug. 2 Election in Shelby County, a request for absentee ballot must be received by July 26. For a complete description of the absentee request process visit http://www.shelbyvote.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/11