VOL. 128 | NO. 137 | Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Suburbs Head to Polls in Municipal Schools Vote
By Bill Dries
Voters in Shelby County’s six suburban towns and cities go to the polls Tuesday, July 16, in a repeat of the set of 2012 referendums on forming municipal school districts.
Savannah Regenold, 20 months, waits with her mother at Collierville Church of Christ, as early voters cast their ballots on the issue of forming municipal schools.
(Daily News/Lance Murphey)
Polls in 43 precincts with 143,334 voters are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Once the polls close, results will be posted at twitter.com/tdnpols as they come in with Web stories recapping the early vote and the final unofficial returns at The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.
The referendum questions are a set of elections with separate results for each of the cities and towns.
If voters approve the formation of the municipal school districts in a town or city, school board elections then would be the next order of business in that community and those elections probably would be held in November.
Suburban leaders have said if voters approve the formation of the school districts, they will aim for the start of classes in their school districts in the 2014-2015 school year.
For the school year that begins Aug. 5, suburban students will be part of the consolidated countywide school system.
The early voting period turnout of 14,334 is 10 percent of the voters in Germantown, Lakeland, Arlington, Millington, Bartlett and Collierville.
The Shelby County Election Commission statistics did not break down the early voter turnout by race or gender as has been the case in previous elections. However, it did break down the early voters by age, which it hasn’t done before.
Voters in two age groups, 55-64 and 65 and over, made up more than half of the early vote – 53.6 percent.
Early voters aged 45-54 were 20.1 percent of the pre-election day vote followed by voters ages 35-44, who were 17.3 percent of the early voter turnout.
Voters ages 25-34 were 6.6 percent of the turnout with those ages 18-24 making up the remaining 2.4 percent.
The highest percentage turnout by the precinct early voters live in was the 18.8 percent who voted early in Collierville 3. Collierville 3’s election day voting site is Collierville Church of Christ, which was also an early voting location.
The highest percentage turnout among the 10 precincts with a Bartlett prefix was 13.2 percent of the voters in Bartlett 2, who vote at Elmore Park Middle School on election day.
Germantown 8, whose election day polling place is Dogwood Elementary School, was the highest percentage precinct in the 11 precincts with a Germantown prefix with 15.9 percent of the voters in that precinct voting early.
Millington’s two precincts showed 8.7 percent and 3.7 percent early voting turnouts, respectively. The two nearby Lucy precincts, which include territory inside Millington’s city limits and areas outside the city limits, showed 6.7 percent and 0.5 percent turnouts in the early vote.
The two Lakeland precincts turned in an 8 percent and a 2.4 percent early voter turnout, respectively.
The two Arlington precincts came in with 11.2 percent and 8.1 percent early voter turnouts, respectively.
Germantown, Bartlett, Millington and Collierville had early voting over several days in their cities. Lakeland and Arlington had early voting for one day.
Although voters from any of the suburban towns and cities could vote at any of the locations, most early voters in Shelby County have historically voted at the location closest to where they live.
Voters in each of the suburban towns and cities approved the same ballot questions in August 2012. But the results were voided months later in a decision by U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays.
Mays ruled in a part of the 2011 lawsuit over the schools merger in which the Shelby County Commission claimed the state law allowing the creation of the municipal school districts violated the Tennessee Constitution.
Mays agreed, ruling the law applied specifically to Shelby County but was passed by the Tennessee legislature as a general law.
The legislature responded in 2013 by passing a new law that lifted the statewide ban on the creation of such school districts. With the new law, aldermen in each of the six towns set a new election date for the same ballot questions.
Also on the ballot in 2012 were referendums on increasing the sales tax in each of the towns and cities that were also approved by voters. Those sales tax hikes were not voided by Mays’ decision and have remained in effect.
The towns and cities held school board elections in November. Those results were also voided in the federal court decision. The school board races expected to follow Tuesday’s referendum elections are also expected to draw many of the same contenders who ran a year ago in the set of six elections.