Davidson County Elections Administrator Jeff Roberts updated new developments with the proposed referendum for the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act and when and if election commissioners will permit voters a chance to have their say.
“We are in the process of verifying the 14,000 signatures turned in last week. The Charter states the number of signatures needed is based on the preceding general election,” Roberts told The Tennessee Star in an email Wednesday.
“A review is underway to determine the appropriate general election. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. The agenda for the meeting has not been finalized.”
As reported last week, the people behind the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act said they have obtained 14,000 signatures for a referendum on the matter and have filed those signatures with the Metro Nashville Clerk’s Office. Nashville attorney Jeff Roberts — no relation to Jim Roberts — said last week that he and other organizers needed between 11,500 to 12,140 signatures to succeed.
Jim Roberts on Wednesday said he will probably file suit Thursday regarding the legally correct number of signatures needed.
“If they [election commissioners] have a meeting Tuesday [then] they will do so under the cloud of a lawsuit,” Jim Roberts said, adding the dispute concerns whether to base the number of votes on the November 2020 election or one that wasn’t state or federal.
“We are not going to wait around this time. We’re just going to go ahead and preemptively sue them.”
Jim Roberts cited a case from two years ago between Nashville’s Fraternal Order of Police versus the city’s Community Oversight Board.
“That [case] said very clearly and unequivocally that a state and federal election, i.e. a November election, doesn’t count as a preceding general election, which is the language used in the Metro Charter. If they really think that the November election is governing then they’re either getting really bad legal advice or they’re acting dishonestly. Or both,” Jim Roberts said.
“It’s voter suppression to the core, it’s just one more tactic so that we have to spend time dealing with the illegality and corruption of the commission when we could be getting the message out. They don’t want people voting on this because they know that they are going to lose.”
As The Star reported in February, organizers are pushing again for Davidson County voters to have the chance to vote for the proposed Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. If voters approve it, the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act would roll back Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s 34 to 37 percent tax increase.
As reported in November, 27,000 Nashvillians signed the first petition, which Metro Nashville officials fought in court — successfully so.
As reported in November, Roberts fought the Davidson County Election Commission to get the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act referendum on last year’s December 5 ballot. But Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled against arguments in favor of the Act, thus giving members of the Davidson County Election Commission what they wanted.
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