Free at last: Tennessee voters ban slavery

Citizens voted to ban all forms of slavery in latest election
Free at last: Tennessee voters ban slavery
A look inside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

Every election cycle features a ballot filled with multiple issues and topics. This year in Tennessee, the issue of slavery appeared on the midterm ballot and voters officially banned all forms of slavery.

The motion passed with 79.54% of the citizens’ vote, according to the Tennessee secretary of state. The ballot’s measure also removed language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as forms of punishment for those convicted of crimes.

Constitutional Amendment 3 will now read, per CBS News: “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”

Before the measure got on the ballot, six legislators voted against it.

“I’m a non-lawyer and most of my voters are non-lawyers and I can’t explain this amendment in words they understand,” Republican state Senator Frank Niceley said during a 2021 meeting of the Tennessee General Assembly, according to CBS News. “The constitution is too sacred to clutter up with a lot stuff non-lawyers can’t explain to other non-laywers. So I guess I’ll be voting no on this.”

A bipartisan group of state legislators came together for a “Vote Yes on 3” campaign, to inform voters about the measure.

“It’s important that we do away with all thoughts of slavery in our constitution,” Tennessee Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison said.

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