City Council votes to fund information campaign on ballot questions

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved funding a public information campaign to explain the confusing questions on the ballot, but some people including the city’s mayor say they have problems with that.

Council wants to explain the potential benefits of the approving the ballot questions.

One of those questions concerns canceling Instant Runoff Voting, a system that was approved by voters in Shelby County 10 years ago but never put into place. Proponents say it saves money and time by not making voters go back to the polls for runoff elections and urge voters not say they don’t approve on the ballot.

But council members have been against the measure being put into place and say citizens should vote yes.

The other measures concern term limits for City Council members. Voting yes would extend term limits from two terms to three, although that’s not clear from the way the question is worded on the ballot.

The organization Save Instant Runoff Voting condemns the move, saying taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the council’s campaign to promote their agenda.

Mayor Jim Strickland said on social media that he doesn’t agree with council spending money to promote the measures, either, but he doesn’t have the power to veto it.

“While I disagree with this expenditure, I don’t have authority over how City Council spends its budget,” Strickland said.

Also, two groups say they’ve witnessed multiple violations by election officials and are asking a court to intervene.

The Tennessee Black Voter Project and the Memphis Branch of the NAACP says their representatives saw the violations during a public records inspection at Shelby County Election Commission operations center.

Among their demands, the groups want a judge to require the county to send notices to voter registration applicants about the status of their registration. They also want the county to allow applicants to fix their denied applications up to and on election day.

Last week, the election commission said they received thousands of invalid voter applications from the Tennessee Black Voter Project.