Voting 2012 – What’s On My Ballot? Virginia and Tennessee

by Irky on November 4, 2012

Romney-ObamaWe here at QRE don’t worry so much about who you vote for – we worry that you’re educated on the topics at hand.

A month or so ago, we pointed you to the tools you needed to make sure you’re eligible to vote this year. We also wanted to make sure that you know what you need to bring with you to your polling place.

So you’re ready to vote. You get to your polling place, you walk past the people shoving Romney, Obama, Allen, Kaine, Griffith and Flaccavento signs in your face (if you’re in Virginia) and go inside. You show them the proper credentials and they tell you you’re good to go – just wait in line.

Once you get inside the voting booth you’ll have a few options. In Virginia (in House District 9), you’ll have the following choices:

 Office  Jurisdiction  Ballot Name  Party
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Mitt Romney  Republican
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Barack Obama  Democrat
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Virgil Goode  Constitution
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Gary Johnson  Libertarian
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Jill Stein  Green
 House of Representatives  09  Morgan H. Griffith  Republican
 House of Representatives  09  Anthony J. Flaccavento  Democrat
 United States Senate  Statewide  George F. Allen  Republican
 United States Senate  Statewide  Timothy M. Kaine  Democrat


But wait, Virginia – there’s more!

You’ll also have “Proposed Constitutional Amendment Question 1″ and “Proposed Constitutional Amendment Question 2″. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

We didn’t. That’s why we admittedly had no idea what it was about. From, here’s what we found out:

Question 1 would place restrictions on how local governments can use the power of eminent domain to take private property. If approved, the changes could only be overturned by a similar amendment approved by the voters.

Question 2 would allow the Virginia General Assembly to delay – by no more than one week – the starting date for its veto session to consider bills returned by the governor either by veto or suggested amendment.

If approved, the amendments would go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Voters should read and review the amendments before heading to the polls because workers there won’t be allowed to answer any questions, said Penny Limburg, general registrar of Bristol, Va.

“Election officers are not permitted to provide any explanation or guidance to voters about the proposed amendments,” Limburg said. “We recommend that voters review them prior to the election so that they will be informed before going to the polls.”

The eminent domain amendment would update a 2007 law that states that private property can be taken only when the public interest dominates the private gain. It includes four changes:

  • Private property can only be taken for true public uses, not for enhancing tax revenues, economic development or private gain.
  • The cost of taking property must be borne by the public not the property owner. Fair and full compensation must be given when property is taken or damaged, including loss of business profits or loss of access.
  • Only property necessary for a project can be taken.
  • The burden of proof that taking is for a true “public use” is on the entity taking the property.

State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been a vocal proponent of that amendment, previously saying it would establish protections property owners “deserve from overzealous governments and the developers who use them to take away Virginians homes, farms and small businesses.”

Both the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties are opposed.

“VACo and VML have opposed the constitutional amendment because it threatens localities’ ability to extend roads and utility lines to economic development projects and will greatly increase the cost of compensating property owners for changes in access to their properties that courts have previously ruled are not compensable,” according to a statement on the county association’s web site.

“If the amendment becomes part of the constitution with these problematic provisions, the General Assembly will not be able to adjust them,” the county association statement continues. “The legal arguments surrounding this issue are complex, so voters would be likely to approve the amendment without fully understanding the consequences.”

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation recently issued a statement urging its members to support the amendment.

“Opponents of the amendment have said Virginia’s constitution already provides protection against eminent domain abuse but we don’t believe it currently goes far enough,” Wayne Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau said in the statement.

“The amendment would tighten the state’s definition of public use which, at the moment, is left to the discretion of the General Assembly. It also will make sure that if your farm, your home or your business is taken in a legitimate use of eminent domain, you will receive just compensation,” Pryor said.

Question 2 has generated no such controversy.

The legislature’s “veto” sessions typically last one day and the constitution currently specifies it must begin on the “sixth Wednesday following the end” of each legislative session. The amendment would only allow the General Assembly to delay the veto session start by no more than a week – seven weeks after the session ends – to avoid possible conflicts with the Passover religious holiday, according to information provided by the state Board of Elections.

If approved by voters, such a delay could then only occur by a joint vote by both chambers of the General Assembly.

The proposed change wouldn’t affect limits on the business that can be considered during a veto session or the length of that session.

So that’s it for Virginia. Good and complicated, just like it ought to be! (insert eyeroll here)

What about Tennessee?

In Tennessee (Congressional District 1), you should have the following:

 Office  Jurisdiction  Ballot Name  Party
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Mitt Romney  Republican
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Barack Obama  Democrat
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Virgil Goode  Constitution
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Jill Stein  Green
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson  Independent
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Gary Johnson  Independent
 President and Vice President  Statewide  Merlin Miller  Independent
 United States Senate  Statewide  Bob Corker  Republican
 United States Senate  Statewide  Mark E. Clayton  Democrat
 United States Senate  Statewide  Kermit Steck  Constitution
 United States Senate  Statewide  Martin Pleasant  Green
 United States Senate  Statewide  Shaun E. Crowell  Independent
 United States Senate  Statewide  David Gatchell  Independent
 United States Senate  Statewide  James Higdon  Independent
 United States Senate  Statewide  Michael Joseph Long  Independent
 United States Senate  Statewide  Troy Stephen Scoggin  Independent
 House of Representatives   01  Phil Roe  Republican
 House of Representatives   01  Alan Woodruff  Democrat
 House of Representatives   01  Robert N. Smith  Green
 House of Representatives   01  Karen Sherry Brackett  Independent
 House of Representatives   01  Michael D. Salyer  Independent

If someone does not have a website linked it’s because we couldn’t find either a) a website at all, or b) a current website. If you have information on these candidates, feel free to link their site in the comments below.

So there you go, faithful QRE readers. This should give you a little bit of a heads-up on what to expect this Tuesday. If you don’t live in Virginia District 9 or Tennessee District 1, we’ve included links below that should get you the information you need. Please – use it! Voting is important, and so is knowing what you’re voting for!

Don’t forget – all of these people, no matter how well-intentioned, are politicians. Be sure to fact-check what you’re told! You can do this at,, or any number of sites around the web. And please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t go to a site that’s sponsored by one party or another. All you’re going to get is “spin”, and that’s not good.

Til next time…

All information comes from the following websites:

What’s on my ballot? (Virginia)

Virginia voters will decide two proposed amendments to the state constitution

Voting Facts (Tennessee)

Tennessee Secretary of State Candidate Information

Virginia Districts 

Tennessee Ticket Guide




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