NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Early voting officially kicks off in Tennessee Friday.
With that, NewsChannel 5 is continuing to hear from viewers that the Metro Charter Amendments are difficult to understand.
Here's an in-depth look at Metro Charter Amendment No. 1.
In essence, it's a Metro Charter Amendment about Metro Charter Amendments.
We had NewsChannel 5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan take a closer look. The biggest change he noticed is how many signatures you need to put an amendment on the ballot.
"Instead of 10% of those who voted in the last general election, it’s now 10% of the registered voters. That’s obviously a larger number," said Nolan.
In 2020, Davidson County had 480,000 registered voters, so if Amendment No. 1 passes, it would require 48,000 signatures to put an amendment on the ballot. "Yea, it would be difficult, there’s no question about it," said Nolan.
"It’s an impossible number," said Jim Roberts, an attorney.
Roberts has assisted with four proposed Metro Charter amendments, so he knows what it's like to get signatures.
"No one has ever, and no one will ever have the money and resources to collect signatures of that magnitude. It will be impossible, and that is the intention," he said.
Back in 2009, he helped with an amendment that would make English the official language of Metro Nashville government. It made the ballot but lost the vote. More recently in 2020, Roberts spearheaded an amendment that would roll back property tax increases, but Metro ultimately blocked it from the ballot after a legal challenge.
Roberts calls Amendment No. 1, voter suppression.
"Let the people decide if it’s a good idea or not," he said.
But supporters like Metro Council Member Bob Mendes argue that clearing up the rules would prevent Metro from getting involved in other costly legal battles. He also thinks garnering 10% of registered voters for a petition is very doable. "In connection with the 1996 football stadium referendum, over 43,000 signatures were gathered in just 30 days," said Mendes is a statement. "Metro Council passed a general obligation (GO) bond resolution on Feb. 6, 1996. The resolution was published in the Tennessean on Feb. 8, 1996. There were 280,084 registered voters in the county at that time. In order to trigger a referendum on the GO bonds, one needed to gather signatures on a petition from 10% of the registered voters within 30 days."
Both sides seem to agree: it would reduce the number of charter amendments that would actually make it on the ballot. But Nolan points out, those who support Amendment No. 1, see that as a win.
"California has lots of referendums on the ballot. We don’t do that," said Nolan.