There has been furious discussion on Nextdoor, among neighbors and in the news about the three referenda that are on the November 6 ballot.
Hard to recall when Memphians (and even non Memphians) have lobbied so hard against referenda. Postcards in the mail asking recipients to vote no on all three; signs sprouting up all over Midtown urging the same; radio ads about it; we have been saturated by urgent pleas for no on them.
The language of the referenda has added to the confusion. That is probably purposeful. They were written in a way to have you vote yes. That’s the vote people usually cast. The lawsuit brought forward against it just muddied the waters on them. In the end, the ballot language was allowed to stand.
The best explanation I have seen comes from Bill Dries at the Daily Memphian. He writes:
The first question:
What’s On The Ballot: Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide no person shall be eligible to hold or to be elected to the office of Mayor or Memphis City Council if any such person has served at any time more than three (3) consecutive four-year terms, except that service by persons elected or appointed to fill an unexpired four-year term shall not be counted as full four-year term?
What It Means: You are being asked to approve a limit of three consecutive terms in office for those elected to the Memphis City Council and those elected mayor. At least that was the council’s stated intent. If this passes, lawsuits probably will be filed over the difference between what was meant and what the wording actually does. The change would apply to the current mayor and council members. Currently, the term limit for those city offices is two consecutive four-year terms.
If You Vote Yes or For the Amendment: You are in favor of extending the term limits to three consecutive terms.
If You Vote No or Against the Amendment: You are against extending the term limits to three consecutive terms.
What’s On The Ballot: Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to repeal Instant Runoff Voting and to restore the election procedure existing prior to the 2008 Amendment for all City offices, and expressly retaining the 1991 federal ruling for persons elected to the Memphis City Council single districts?
What It Means: This would repeal a method of electing City Council members in seven single-member districts when no candidate gets a majority of the votes. Instead of a runoff election between the top two finishers at a later date, voters have the option of ranking candidates in order of preference – first, second and third. If no one gets a majority, the candidate who received the fewest number of first-choice votes is eliminated and the voter’s second-choice candidate receives the vote instead. This continues until one candidate has received a simple majority.
If You Vote Yes or For the Amendment: You are in favor of eliminating instant-runoff voting.
If You Vote No or Against the Amendment: You want to keep instant-runoff voting.
What’s On The Ballot: Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide that in any municipal election held as required by law, the candidate receiving the largest number of votes shall be declared the winner, thereby eliminating run-off elections?
What It Means: This would eliminate the requirement that requires a runoff election if no candidate in any of the seven single-member council district races gets a majority of the votes cast. That would mean whoever gets the most votes in these races wins the seat, even if it is not a majority of the votes cast.
If You Vote Yes or For the Amendment: You want to eliminate runoffs.
If You Vote No or Against the Amendment: You want to keep runoffs for these seven city council seats.
So how to vote?
On the first, I agree with the naysayers. I will vote “no” on extending term limits. Most of these people are jackass/clowns who need to get off the stage. The longer they’re there, the more corruption and graft sets in, in my opinion.
On the second, I am opposed to instant runoff voting. If you search on this website you will see the countless arguments against it presented previously. Many times the least popular candidate ends up winning. It’s a very complicated system and one that looks ripe for unscrupulous people to take advantage of and get away with it.
There has been a running battle on Nextdoor over this issue. I agree with those who feel IRV impedes third parties and independents as well as taking away our one person one vote system. Others fear the cost of a runoff and proponents of IRV say the cost amounts to about $250,000. For me, this is a so what? What is more important for our taxes to go to than electing proper people. And since when has this city government ever cared about cost?
I will vote “yes” to repeal this stupidity. That so many RINOs like John McCain and New York Times columnist David Brooks, along with Democrats Steve Cohen, Janis Fullilove and Myron Lowery want a “no” makes me dubious of their intentions. So does an ad by this actress, Jennifer Lawrence. What the heck does she care about our local election? Hint: it’s more about changing our election methods.
The third one actually mitigates the need for IRV. It allows a plurality to determine the winner of a race. The same people who cite cost savings on IRV want a no to this. I will vote “yes.”
The ballot will actually ask not for a no or a yes, but a for or against, I read from early voters. The people who organized the opposition evidently didn’t realize that’s how it appears on the ballot.