Proposed Ordinance to Require City Property Rights Voters to Cast Absentee Ballots

March 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville property rights voters may have to vote by paper ballot in the Municipal Election in August.

Smithville Aldermen Monday night adopted an ordinance on first reading to keep city property rights voters from possibly having to go to two places to vote in the Smithville Municipal Election which will be held in conjunction with the County General Elections and or State Primaries on Thursday, August 7.

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

Under the ordinance, city property rights voters may only vote by absentee or paper ballot in the city election. 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 only applies 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.

Last summer, the aldermen ratified a new city charter, as approved by the Tennessee Legislature that changes the city election dates 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.

The ordinance, adopted on first reading Monday night states, "Whereas, the City of Smithville allows individuals who are non-resident property owners the right to vote in City elections; and

Whereas, T.C.A. 2-6-205, establishes a procedure permitting those non-resident property owners to vote by absentee ballot if an ordinance is passed within the requirements set out in said statute:

Now, Therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, that

Section 1. By passing this ordinance it does hereby require that those non-resident property owners voting in the municipal election, Thursday August 7, 2014 shall be required to vote absentee for said election.

Section 2. This ordinance shall be effective only for the August 7, 2014 ballot for the City of Smithville.

Section 3. The DeKalb County Election Commission shall notify the non-resident property owners as set out in T.C.A. 2-6-205 of the requirements of this ordinance.

Second and final reading of the ordinance will be scheduled on Monday, April 7 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall.

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