Lawsuit filed against Hamilton Election Commission over ballot language for Non-Discrimination Ordinance
The Hamilton County Election Commission is facing a lawsuit regarding the language used on the upcoming ballot regarding the Non-Discrimination Ordinance.
Attorney Stevie Phillips filed the suit Monday afternoon on behalf of Lt. Corliss Cooper, a veteran officer of the Chattanooga Police Department with over 27 years of service and her partner Robin Smith.
The complaint was filed after the Hamilton County Election Commission voted to change the language that will appear on the August 7th ballot regarding the Non-Discrimination Ordinance approved by City Council last November.
The election commission initially voted to accept language that was submitted by the City Attorney. The original language, approved and published by the election commission, included a summary of the ordinance and a fiscal note certified by the Chief Financial Officer.
Subsequently,an outside group filed a complaint arguing that the language was too supportive of the Ordinance. In response, the election commission held an emergency meeting without notifying the public and stripped the 170 word summary down to 15 words -- eliminating important information that would help voters understand the law.
The lawsuit asks the Court to declare that the language chosen by the election commission is in violation of the Chattanooga City Charter and state law, to find that the Election Commission violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, and to enjoin the commission from printing or disseminating the ballots.