State election coordinator warns poll workers to not influence voters on marriage amendment

With three sites in different counties in Tennessee reporting potential voting irregularities involving Constitutional amendment one (the marriage amendment defining marriage between a man and woman), Tennessee's election coordinator has sent an email to voting precinct workers warning them they cannot tell voters how to vote or explain the amendments.

Randy Tarkington, campaign manager for Vote No On 1, said his office has had reports from voters in Shelby, Williamson and Davidson County that poll workers went to extremes to explain the amendment and did so in potentially derogatory terms. Early voting leading up to the Nov. 7 election continues (see related NewsChannel 5 story).

“In Shelby County the poll worker told the voter that if they wanted to see marriage between two men or three women than they should vote no,” Tarkington said. “In Williamson County the poll worker told the voter to ‘vote yes if you want marriage to be the way it has been.”

Elections Coordinator Brook Thompson sent the e-mail to precinct workers on Wednesday and warned them they should not tell voters how to vote or try to explain the amendments.

"That is not our job. The only thing you should ever tell a voter is that a yes vote is for amending the constitution and a no vote is against amending the constitution," Brooks said in the e-mail. "Do not try to tell them how to vote if they tell you what their position is. The ballot speaks for itself and the advocates should be educating the public. Additionally, there is an explanation of the process and the amendments on our Election's Division Web site."

Tarkington said he wasn’t sure what action, if any, the Vote No On 1 campaign would take, but wanted voters to know that if this happened to them the campaign wanted to know about it.

“We’ve posted a notice on our Website and we want to hear from voters if this happens to them,” he said. “We are, as a campaign, talking about what we are going to do.”

For more information visit the Vote No On 1 Web site at or call the Vote No On 1 campaign office at 615-321-8467.

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