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Ballot Basics: Election Day Nov. 8, 2022

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 08, 2022 10:25 AM CT | Published: November 07, 2022 1:57 PM CT

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The last 2022 election day for Shelby County is Tuesday, Nov. 8. It features a slate smaller than August’s “big ballot,” which included dozens of judicial races.

There also are no primary elections this time around.

This election features four ballot questions whose text is complex and filled with the kind of legalese that can make it difficult to vote with a simple yes or no.

Understanding Tennessee’s proposed ‘right to work’ constitutional amendment

There also is a new voting system in this election that requires voters to make a choice before they even get their ballot. 

The Daily Memphian’s election coverage will begin during the day with reports on what’s happening at election sites. Polls open at 7 a.m., and we begin reporting the vote count after the polls close at 7 p.m., starting with the early voting and absentee results.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Election Day voting process.

Here is the ballot.

On the ballot are state and federal general elections, including the only statewide race of the year, the race for governor. In Shelby County, five of the six suburban towns and cities have municipal elections.

Voters to decide two special elections on November ballot

There are 52 races on the ballot, counting the four Tennessee Constitutional amendments. Those races feature a total of 108 candidates. Of the 48 races with candidates, 20 of them are already decided because a candidate is running unopposed.

The proposed Tennessee Constitutional amendments

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office has the text of the amendments along with a summary and videos on each.

Here is a brief summary of the amendments:

Amendment 1: This would make the state’s current “right to work” law part of the Tennessee Constitution. It makes it illegal to deny a worker a job if they choose not to join a labor union. This is the most hotly contested of the four amendments and interpretations of what the wording would do and the effect it would have differ greatly. 

Amendment 2: The amendment with the longest block of text on the ballot is among the least controversial but still has a high capacity to confuse.

The Speaker of the Tennessee House comes after the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate — which are one in the same — in the line of succession to become Governor if the Governor leaves office or is temporarily incapacitated.

The amendment allows the House speaker to keep that office and his or her district seat while serving as Governor. But they cannot vote or use any of their legislative powers while serving as Governor.

If the speaker becomes Governor, he or she does not get the pay raise that comes with being Governor. He or she serves as acting Governor with his or her Speaker pay.

Amendment 3: This amendment would abolish all language in the state constitution legalizing slavery. That includes doing away with wording that allows slavery or involuntary servitude for work done by inmates following their conviction for a crime.

Proposed amendment would ban slavery as punishment for a crime

Amendment 4: If approved, this amendment would strike wording in the Tennessee Constitution that forbids “ministers of the gospel and priests of any denomination from holding a seat” in the state House or state Senate.

The Memphis ballot

Memphis voters have two special elections to decide. One is to fill a vacancy in City Court Division 2 created when Judge Tarik Sugarmon was elected as the new Juvenile Court Judge in August.

The city court judge’s race with nine contenders is on the ballots of all Memphis voters.

The other special election is limited to voters in City Council District 4. The seat covering Orange Mound, South Memphis and Cooper-Young was vacated when Jamita Swearengen was elected Circuit Court Clerk in August.

If none of the four contenders get a simple majority of the votes cast, the top two will advance to a Dec. 8 runoff. This election will only be for District 4 voters, with early voting from Nov. 18-Dec. 3.

Early voters’ numbers hint at Election Day turnout

Going to vote

When you go to the first desk to sign the voter roll, you will be asked if you want to vote on the new voting machines or prefer a hand-marked paper ballot.

This is your choice, and you don’t need a reason to vote the hand-marked paper ballot as you did in the past.

You will not be asked whether you want to vote in a primary election or which primary you want since this ballot features general election races only.

Know your precinct and districts

With the change of precincts and their numbering system earlier this year, your voting location may have changed even if you don’t pay that much attention to your precinct number.

Your state House and/or state Senate district also may have changed with the Tennessee Legislature redrawing its district lines earlier this year.

If you have voted at the same Election Day precinct for quite a while, you probably need to check to see if your Election Day polling place has changed.

Registration deadline shows changes in county’s voter demographics

Here is a link to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s precinct finder that also lists all of the various districts — including those on Tuesday’s ballot.

Why you need to check the races on your ballot

During early voting, 50 voters got ballots at one of the 26 early voting sites that included the wrong Congressional District.

Nashville has had a larger problem with this during early voting, with 438 voters getting the wrong ballot.

The Nashville problems went to Chancery Court with the election commission there agreeing to try to locate voters who got the wrong ballot and have them vote via a provisional ballot.

In Shelby County, the election commission has said the problem will be an issue if the certified vote in either Congressional District representing parts of Shelby County is decided by a margin of 50 votes or less.

50 voters get wrong ballots at Berclair early voting site

Redistricting has changed the boundaries between the 8th and 9th Congressional districts — the two districts that include Shelby County — since the last Congressional races two years ago.

New ways to vote

If you are an early voter by habit who didn’t cast your ballot during early voting this time, you have to vote at your Election Day precinct site Tuesday.

And if you voted early — between Oct. 19 and Nov. 3 — do not go to the polls Tuesday to try to vote again.

If you vote on the new machines, they look different than the touch-screen voting machines used for the past 20 years.

They’re just an updated touch-screen version with a component built in to record your choices on a paper readout that you can verify and then run through a separate digital scanner.

After you are done at the sign-in table, you will get either a paper ballot to mark by hand or a rectangular piece of paper with one of the upper corners cut off to use in the new voting machines.

The hand-marked ballots are a matter of filling in the bubble or circle on the form, and the voting site will have pencils for you to use.

The first thing you will do at the new machines is put the rectangular piece of paper with the right corner cut into a slot marked with arrows next to the touch screen. That activates the screen with the usual indicators and then the ballot.

After you indicate you have completed marking your choices and want to cast your ballot, you will still get a review of your choices. 

When you press the button a second time to cast your ballot, the machine will print the choices you have made on the rectangular piece of paper so you can review them again.

You’ll then take it to a digital scanner which records your choices. From there, the hard copy of your ballot rolls into a locked ballot box.

Opinion: Even if you don’t like the candidates, hold your nose and vote

Your hand-marked paper ballot also is run through the same scanner and put in a locked ballot box.

If you “overvote” — that is, if you make more than one choice in a race on either the voting machines or your hand-marked paper ballot — you will be notified.

The touchscreen machines will notify you and will not let you overvote.

On the hand-marked paper ballots, the digital scanner will stop and alert you that you have overvoted and that you can get another ballot with the previous one being voided.

If you decide to not correct the overvote and continue with the scanning, your vote in any race where you overvoted will not be counted, but your votes in other races will be counted.

Write-in votes

The hand-marked paper ballots have a space for write-in votes.

On the machines, if you touch a write-in box on the screen, it will bring up a keyboard for you to type in the name you want.

In order for the Election Commission to count and tally as part of the official results your vote for a write-in candidate, that candidate must have notified election officials formally that they are a write-in candidate. Otherwise, the write-in votes are not tallied by name.

Don’t keep your paper ballot

If you somehow forget to run your paper ballot or your paper readout through the scanner at the end of this process, an election official might remind you.

If you leave the polling place with the piece of paper from either way of voting, you cannot come back in to scan it, and your vote will not be counted.


Ballot Basics Nov 8 2022 election

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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