Tennessee voted to officially ban slavery as a criminal punishment in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but the result left social media appalled.
Voters in the ruby red state have overwhelmingly backed an amendment proposal that would change the state constitution to remove language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime, thereby reducing the use of prison labor.
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According to results from the Secretary of State’s office, the amendment received more than 1.2 million upvotes, which is likely enough to warrant passage. Just under four-fifths of voters said yes to the amendment, while just over 20% said no.
“Last night was a historic night in Tennessee. For the first time since 1870, our constitution no longer protects the institution of slavery,” said Kathy Chambers, campaign manager for the Yes on 3 campaign. Newsweek.
“A bipartisan effort that’s been going on for years, we couldn’t be prouder of the citizens for agreeing that slavery has no place in our state.”
“A bipartisan effort that’s been going on for years, we couldn’t be prouder of the citizens for agreeing that slavery has no place in our state.” The campaign has been contacted for further comment.
However, some on social media were stunned that more than 300,000 voters said “no” to the proposed amendment.
“The fact that 20% of Tennessee residents believe slavery should still be legal is incredibly disheartening,” sportscaster Jeff Roberts wrote on Twitter.
Author Quenton Albertie added, “316,000 people in Tennessee wanted slavery. Y’all are safe.”
Trey Graham wrote“The truly mind-blowing thing about this headline is the story behind it: 20% of Tennessee voters chose to KEEP slavery going tonight.”
“I look at those people in the South who were only able to separate themselves from slavery in 2022 with deep hatred. What year are we in?” wrote another Twitter user.
While some tweeted their amazement that slavery was on the ballot in 2022, others wrote that although the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery, it still allows it as a punishment for The crime.
The vote in Tennessee is part of a nationwide effort to change the 13th Amendment exception that has long permitted forced labor by those convicted of certain crimes.
“Yes, slavery is actually explicitly legal in America for convicts. There is a specific exception in the 13th Amendment to allow prisoners to be used as slaves,” tweeted Shehan Jeyarajah. “Banning slavery as a punishment is a huge deal and the right thing to do.”
Nearly 20 states have constitutions that include language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal penalties. Colorado was the first to remove the language by vote in 2018, followed by Nebraska and Utah in 2020.
Chambers noted that Tennessee “is a former slave state, the state where the KuKlux Klan was founded and as red of a state as you’ll find but we got over 60 percent positive votes in all 95 counties, even rural Republican counties.”[KuKluxKlanaétéfondéetaussirouged’unÉtatquevousletrouverezmaisnousavonsobtenuplusde60 %devotespositifsdansles95comtésmêmelescomtésrépublicainsruraux”[KuKluxKlanwasfoundedandasredofastateasyou’llfindyetwegotover60percentyesvotesinall95countiesevenruralRepublicancounties”
Colorado “passed this amendment in 2018 on its second attempt with 65% yes, 35% no. Utah passed a similar amendment in 2020 with 80% yes, 20% no. Nebraska passed a similar amendment in 2020 with 68% yes, 32% no,” she added. “Essentially we tied Utah’s results. It’s pretty incredible given our history!”
On Tuesday, voters in Alabama, Tennessee and Vermont approved measures to close those loopholes. The vote remained too close to be called in Oregon on Wednesday morning, but voters in Louisiana rejected a ballot question asking if they supported a constitutional amendment to ban the use of involuntary servitude in the criminal justice system. .
“So a lot of people scoff at the slavery ballots, but maybe don’t know that slavery is still allowed via the 13th Amendment to the Constitution,” Anthony Nash tweeted.
“A lot of these measures are aimed at stopping that in terms of how prisons deal with prison labor.”
Update 11/9/22, 11:12 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional commentary from Kathy Chambers and a new photo.
Update 11/9/22, 9:20 AM ET: This article has been updated with a comment from Kathy Chambers.
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