|Legal Opinion: Tie Vote Letter (11-20-2014) public.docx|
Text of Document:
November 20, 2014
You have asked how a tie vote in an election for alderman is to be broken. State election laws govern how tie votes for elected offices are to be broken. Tenn. Code Annotated Section 2-8-111 reads:
If there is a tie vote between the two (2) or more persons having the highest number of votes for an office, the state election commission shall cast the deciding vote except that: . . .
(2) The municipal legislative body shall cast the deciding vote for municipal offices, or, in the alternative, the legislative body may by resolution call for a run-off election between the tied candidates;
Based upon the language in this provision, the City’s Board of Mayor and Alderman (hereinafter “BOMA”) will either have to vote and break the time or pass a resolution calling for a run-off election for the office.
Additionally, you have asked for some guidance on how to proceed with the meeting scheduled for Monday, November 24, 2014. Given the fact that the current BOMA has not yet discussed and voted upon how to proceed with breaking the tie for the alderman office, I suggest that a meeting first be called to discuss and vote, by roll call, upon that issue. You might also want to approve the minutes from the previous meeting during this meeting since all of the aldermen who likely attended the previous meeting will also be present at this one. If the BOMA votes to break the tie, I would go ahead and vote, by roll call, on who is going to fill the office. Once the vote is held and the result announced, I suggest that you adjourn the meeting. A second meeting can then be called to order, the newly elected and re-elected members sworn in, if they have meet all of the other qualifications to serve, and then the newly constituted BOMA can proceed with the business on the agenda for the second meeting. In the alternative, if the BOMA votes to hold a run-off election, I would adjourn the first meeting after the results of that vote are announced. A second meeting can then be called to order and the BOMA can proceed with its business.
Based upon the language in the municipal code that establishes the time and date for the BOMA meetings, it appears that each of the meetings described above will be special called. As such, the notice for each of these meetings has to specifically enumerate the matters to be addressed and any actions to be taken during the meetings. Additionally, the notices will need to be placed in as many public places as possible and you might also want to post the notices in the newspaper. If there is a public access channel in your City or a radio station that will announce the meetings, you might also want to provide notice through those outlets. Finally, given the fact that these meetings are scheduled to occur on Monday, November 20, 2014, you will need to post the notices as soon as possible. I encourage you to post them today, if that can be arranged.
Elisha D. Hodge
MTAS Legal Consultant