Hamilton County election officials seek settlement of suit over same-sex referendum wording

Hamilton County election officials seek settlement of suit over same-sex referendum wording

July 2nd, 2014 by Todd South in Local - Breaking News

The Hamilton County Election Commission will hold their second emergency meeting in two weeks on Monday to discuss settling a lawsuit filed this week over ballot language for a referendum to allow domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Election Administrator Kerry Steelman confirmed that the meeting would be held at 8 a.m. Monday after discussions between the commission, city of Chattanooga, Coalition for Government Accountability and Transparency, and the lawyer for Chattanooga police Lt. Corliss Cooper, who filed the lawsui.

The original language was written by the petitioner, CGAT, and approved in December.

But the language was sent to the Chattanooga City Attorney's office for review and changed for the ballot printing, which was to begin two weeks ago.

After CGAT attorney Stephen Duggins contacted state election officials, Hamilton County election commissioners held an emergency meeting June 27 and voted to change the wording back to the original language, written by the petitioner.

Cooper is suing the commission over that change in the wording. On Monday, the Chattanooga City Council directed the city attorney to file a similar lawsuit, which was done today.

Ballots for city voters with the referendum question are on hold, awaiting the commission's final approval. The commission has until noon Monday to notify the printer in order for the ballots to be returned in time for the mail out.

For more see Thursday's Times Free Press.