City May Again Require Paper Ballots for Property Rights Voters

January 7, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen are being asked to consider adopting an ordinance to keep city property rights voters from possibly having to go to two places to vote in all future Smithville Municipal Elections which will be held in conjunction with the August County General Elections and or State Primaries starting this year.

The aldermen adopted a similar measure for the city liquor referendum in November 2012, but that was just for the one ballot issue.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley made the request during Monday night's city council meeting. "If you recall back in 2012 when there was a referendum during a county wide election in November I came to you and asked you to pass an ordinance to allow property rights voters to vote by paper ballot so they would not have to go to two or three different voting places on election day," said Stanley. "You did that but you did it for that election only. Now that your election has moved from June to August, it will always fall on a county wide election so I am here tonight asking you to consider adopting an ordinance and then notifying us of that adoption for us to allow property rights voters to vote by paper ballot. They do need to have their property registered with us. They have to come by and register as a property rights voter," he said.

No action was taken Monday night, but an ordinance will be prepared for the aldermen to consider at an upcoming meeting.

Under such ordinance, city property rights voters could only vote by absentee or paper ballot in all future city elections, beginning this August. They would still be free to vote in person at their own precinct or during early voting for other offices on the county general or state primary ballots

Without such an ordinance, the city's property rights voters would likely have to go to two places to vote on election day in August. They would vote at their regular precinct by machine in the county wide election and state primaries, and then would have to come to one of the four precincts in Smithville to vote just in the city election. This process would only apply to property rights voters, those who live outside the city in DeKalb County but who have property inside the city and are qualified to vote in a city election.

In June, the aldermen ratified a new city charter, as approved by the Tennessee Legislature that changes the city elections from June to August and makes the terms of office for the mayor and aldermen, four years instead of two.

The new charter also extends voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed) and allows property rights voting for county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city.

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