- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An online campaign is urging Tennessee voters to skip over the governor’s election as a way to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers more power to regulate abortion in the state.

The two main groups campaigning on the amendment don’t know who is behind the online effort, and no one has taken credit for it, The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/ZQsVdT) reported.

The website at truthon1.org features a YouTube video in which a woman explains why sitting out the governor’s race between Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Democrat Charlie Brown next month might be good for supporters of Amendment 1.

The logic hinges on a provision in the state constitution that outlines the threshold an amendment must get for it to succeed - a majority of the votes cast in the gubernatorial election regardless of the number of votes cast on the amendment.

That means that if 1.5 million people vote in the abortion referendum and 1.4 million vote for governor, 700,001 votes will get the job done for the amendment, even if the total is less than half on that issue. But if 1.4 million vote for governor and just 1.3 million people vote on the abortion referendum, anti-abortion forces will still need 700,001 votes.

“I know you may think this is crazy, but it doesn’t matter,” the video says. “It’s the law. What does it mean for us? Vote yes for Amendment 1, but don’t vote in the governor’s race. The less people who vote in the governor’s race means it takes less votes to pass the amendment.

“In other words, if you vote yes on 1, but don’t vote in the governor’s race you’ll double your vote.”

The website is registered anonymously in Panama. It shows a trademarked “Truth on 1” logo but that name is not connected to any of the eight committees on Amendment 1 registered with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.

The website itself doesn’t identify an organization, although videos are posted on YouTube under the name “Tenn Williamson.”

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which operates one of those committees, said he doesn’t know who created the website, nor does he subscribe to its message.

The same goes from Tennessee Right to Life President Brian Harris, a coordinator with the Yes on1 campaign.

“I would like to just underscore that while that strategy is technically correct, it’s not something that we’re advocating from the campaign,” Harris said.

The website has drawn attention from Amendment 1 opponents, who say sitting out an election is the wrong thing to do, particularly in this case.

“Telling people to not vote on the governor’s race in order to help an amendment that would give politicians more power is just nonsense and it’s crazy,” said Lisa Carter, Amendment 1 coordinator with the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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