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VOL. 131 | NO. 85 | Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tennessee AG to Appeal Recount Order on Abortion Amendment


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The office of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced on Tuesday that it is going to appeal a federal judge's ruling requiring a recount of a 2014 vote that made it easier to restrict abortions in the state.

Slatery's office filed legal paperwork Tuesday saying the state would appeal the order by U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp.

Eight voters who support abortion rights sued the state over the way the votes were counted on an abortion measure known as Amendment 1. The measure gives state lawmakers power to "enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."

"We do not agree with the plaintiffs that thousands of Tennesseans' votes do not matter," Adam Ghassemi, a spokesman for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, said in a statement. "We are appealing because every vote should count."

Sharp ruled last week that the way the votes were counted was unfair to those who opposed the amendment, and he gave the state 20 days to come up with a plan for a recount.

The state has argued that it has been counting votes the same way for more than 100 years.

The Tennessee Constitution says that for state amendments to pass, they must be approved by "a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor."

Sharp said people who voted for the amendment would have their votes counted as long as they voted for governor. In his ruling, he said abortion opponents tried to lower the threshold of what it would take to pass the amendment by telling people not to vote for governor.

Sharp's ruling came a day after a state court in Williamson County had upheld the election.

"We obviously disagree with the federal court's decision," Harlow Sumerford, a spokesman for Slatery, said in a statement. "Simply put, deciding what vote is required to amend the Tennessee Constitution is a matter of state law to be determined by a Tennessee court."

The announcement from the AG's office comes after state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, earlier in the day asked Slatery in a letter to fight the recount order. McNally called the federal court case a transparent effort by abortion rights supporters to disenfranchise their opponents.

McNally is the lone candidate to announce a run for lieutenant governor to replace Ron Ramsey who is retiring.

The lead plaintiff in the case said there is a "good probability" that the amendment will fail in a recount.

The constitutional amendment was declared passed with 53 percent of the vote.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

PROPERTY SALES 81 201 16,108
MORTGAGES 40 104 10,026
BUILDING PERMITS 130 336 38,272
BANKRUPTCIES 28 56 7,528