UPDATE: Never mind all the following. Vote 'NO' on Amendment 1 and vote for somebody, anybody (except Haslam) for Governor if you want your 'no' vote to count.

Original post...

In order to pass, the state constitutional amendment banning abortion must get a majority of votes cast in the governor's election, not just a majority of the votes on the question itself. So if you vote 'no' on Amendment 1 and skip voting in the governor's race you increase its chances of defeat. Tom Humphrey explains...

This will be pretty easy for me. I won't vote for Haslam and the Democrats failed to run a credible, qualified candidate.

UPDATE: As pointed out by a reader, this may be backwards.

Mickey White's picture

Vote Constitution Party for Governor

Shaun Crowell - 2014 Gubernatorial Candidate

R. Neal's picture

Apparently, you missed the

Apparently, you missed the point.

LeftWingCracker's picture


If I wanted to vote YES on 2 (the judges selection) and skip the Gov race, would that hurt the chances of 2 passing?

R. Neal's picture

Hmmm. Good point. Guess we'll

Hmmm. Good point. Guess we'll have to pick the lesser of evils. The "Tennessee Plan" for judicial selection is already defacto law, so that's a consideration.

Andy's picture

Amendment 2

Why would anyone vote "YES" on 2, when it removes the language in the Tennessee Constitution that provides for judges to be elected by the legal voters of Tennessee? What needs to happen is an overturning of the 1971 "Tennessee Plan: which allows for the "appointment" of judges rather than their election and only lets the citizenry vote to retain or replace.

Vote NO on 2/

fischbobber's picture

Money talks

MOB RULE rules!!!!!!!

R. Neal's picture

See update. I'm confused.

See update. I'm confused.

CE Petro's picture


How is it that this amendment is even tied to votes for governor? Shouldn't this amendment be defeated/passed on it's own merits?

So very confusing especially when it's tied to a lame race with no credible candidates.

R. Neal's picture

It's in the state constition

It's in the state constition that way for a legislative amendment. Not sure about the logic behind it. The other option is a convention.

Bill Lyons's picture

The Logic underscoring Tennessee's process

Thanks for raising the "logic behind it" issue. That is pretty important in understanding the process for changing any constitution. Of course constitutions are supposed to represent more timeless sets of principles that go beyond more temporal whims of the majority. Hence any constitution is changed by some process that goes beyond the ability to get a majority at some point in time in the legislature.

Tennessee's Constitution is generally regarded as among the most difficult if not the most difficult to change among all 50 states. While there is a mechanism for a constitutional convention almost all changes come through the other process - starting with the approval of the proposed amendment by each body in two legislative sessions.

The second set of legislative approvals must be by super majorities. Then the proposed amendment must be approved by essentially a super-majority of the public voting in the general election. The specification that the vote must by a majority of the total vote from those voting for Governor assigns a "No" vote to those who do not vote at all on the proposed amendment. The total voting "down the ticket" is almost always lower. Hence the term: roll-off.

The sum total of all of this is that it is by design very difficult to amend the constitution. Those constructing the Tennessee constitution certainly took that to heart. It takes large majorities that maintain themselves over a number of years. Obviously those large majorities have taken voice in this state.

Also as a side note, while many states allow an "initiative and referendum process" that allows signatures to be collected for a statewide ballot that changes the Constitution, Tennessee has no such provision. California "proposition XXs" all reflect that route to Constitutional change. I am not sure if that has worked out all that well. It is a mechanism denied popular majorities that can pop up on some issues.

I will offer one final comment fresh out of Government 101, but often forgotten. Democracy is, of course, not only about majority rule, but also minority rights.

Andy's picture


That is exactly why we are NOT a democracy, but a Constitutional Republic. BIG difference.

onetahiti's picture

extreme example

Suppose only 10 people vote for governor and 1,000,000 on Amendment 1. Then would Amendment 1 pass with only 6 "yes" votes?

-- OneTahiti

R. Neal's picture



Edit: No. The amendment still needs a majority 'yes' vote.

yellowdog's picture

It is not that hard...

Whether you like this or not:

In order for an amendment to pass and become part of the TN Constitution, two things must happen:
1) The amendment must get more "yes" votes than "no" votes; and
2) The number of "yes" votes must be a majority of the votes cast in the gubernatorial election.
To determine the votes needed, all votes for all candidates for governor are added together. This number is divided by two or halved. The number of "yes" votes must exceed that number. If the number of "yes" votes exceeds the number, the Constitutional amendment passes and becomes part of the Constitution.


Despite the fact that the number of votes cast for governor is used to determine the outcome, it is not necessary to vote in the governor’s race in order to vote on the Constitutional amendment. Likewise, it is not necessary to vote for an amendment in order to vote in the governor’s race.

SO -- if we don't vote for governor we are helping the supporters of the amendment.

R. Neal's picture

Yellowdog is correct.

Yellowdog is correct. Disregard everything I said earlier and my examples.

Here's what the constitution says:

And if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of this Constitution.

Origami's picture

Still confused

If we expect more people to vote on Amendment 1 than for governor, which seems likely, then the number of votes for governor is irrelevant, isn't it? Say 600,000 vote for governor and 1,000,000 vote on Amendment 1. Then 500,001 votes are needed to pass Amendment 1 by your rule 1 and only 300,001 are needed by your rule 2 (the governor-vote rule).

I won't rely on my assumption, and will cast a vote for governor, but I just want to make sure I understand the situation.

Knoxgal's picture

Wasn't expected that more people would vote

Historically, more people have voted in the governor's race than on the Amendments and that trend was expected to continue in this election. I suspect that will still be true this time, too, but it is possible that this time the amendments will get more votes. Everyone knows Haslam is a shoo-in and some supporters of Amendment 1 might skip voting in the governor's race to lower the bar for passage.

The amendments in general, and especially Amendment 1, have certainly become the hot button issues in this election and I'm sure are responsible for the long lines we saw at Downtown West on Thursday. Hopefully, the other race that's drawing people out is the Johnson/Smith race. The more voters that turn out for Gloria the better it is for Amendment 1 and vice versa.

yellowdog's picture

It would be quite unusual, but

it could happen that more people vote on One than for governor. Since my primary goal is to defeat Amendment One (I cannot vote for Gloria), I am going to assume normalcy (which In TN is risky!) and managed to vote for a governor candidate even if I did not want to.

It is not like it will matter to the outcome of the governor's race but it might to the amendment vote.

Tess's picture

I'm confused too

Voting for either Haslam or Brown is a problem for me.

B Harmon's picture

Does a write-in governor

Does a write-in governor candidate count in the total count?

yellowdog's picture


The vote must be for someone on the ballot for governor.

Andy Axel's picture


It never ceases to amaze me how seven human generations of institutional rule by a single party will lend itself to the sort of corruption that will bite back hard when that party is no longer in power.

You'd have thought that someone would have thought about that.

Andy Axel's picture

That yellow dog don't hunt.

You know what?

I'm going to declare that voting for either Charlie Brown is simply not my problem.

By forgoing their responsibility to vet candidates for governor, the TNDP has basically declared that they DO NOT GIVE A SINGLE SHIT about conceding the race to Haslam before it was even started.

Skipping the gubernatorial vote, writing in another candidate, voting for Brown or Haslam, it just doesn't matter.

So, TNDP and its most ardent supporters, riddle me this: Why should I care about the gubernatorial results when you all clearly don't?

Rachel's picture

I didn't intend to vote in

I didn't intend to vote in the governor's race, but I DO care very much about Amendment 1. So what the heck am I supposed to do? Are there any third party candidates on the ballot?

Andy Axel's picture

Take a cue from your party

and refuse to give a shit.

It's not your problem.

Rachel's picture

It sure the hell IS my

It sure the hell IS my problem. I don't care that the TNDP is full of jackasses, amendment one is still important. VERY important.

Andy Axel's picture

Well, go to the poll

and let the Magic 8 ball decide how to vote for governor. All I'm saying is that the barn is already burned down as far as the TNDP is concerned on the governor's race.

I don't see what bearing that has on Amendment 1.

CE Petro's picture


I'm with Rachel on this. Amendment 1 is far more important to me than the goobers running for gov.

And now I find I have to vote for a goober in order for my vote against the amendment to count. That's pretty damned messed up.

R. Neal's picture

Isa Infante

Isa Infante

CE Petro's picture


Thanks Randy. I replied before I finished reading the thread. (I know, shame on me)

Tess's picture

some issues with isa

Isa says on her web site that she lives in public housing, so I guess there may be some issues that would be a barrier to her being able to execute the job of governor of TN if she were to be elected to that office. But, so far, she still has my vote over Haslam and Brown--if it is true that a vote for governor is required to be able to vote for constitutional issues in the state.

Bird_dog's picture

public housing

Doesn't the Governor live in public housing?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Hey, that's a very good point, Bird!

Rachel's picture

I posted this last night and

I posted this last night and then deleted it, because when you read the story carefully, the headline seems backwards.

Hildegard's picture

(No subject)


nativeknox's picture


Tess's picture

Isa Infante for Governor

Here is her info (from her web site):

Candidate for Governor of Tennesse
Knoxville, Tennesse

Isa InfanteI am running for Governor of the State of Tennessee as a Green Party candidate. I have been active in numerous political, social, educational and environmental community organizations and I want to continue making a positive contribution to making this a better world for all of us and not just for the privileged few. I believe this campaign will be an important way of contributing to that mission.

Currently I am the Coordinating Chair of the Green Party of Knox County, President of the Yale Club of Knoxville and on the Board of Directors of My Place Performing Arts Center in Knoxville. I also participate in the Neighborhood Watch of the public housing complex where I live, in a community Improv comedy troupe and in a feminist collective. In addition, I am a practitioner of the Alexander Technique, Macrobiotics and Tai Chi.

I was born in the Dominican Republic of Puerto Rican and Dominican parents and arrived in the USA in 1945 at the age of three. I was raised in the Bronx, N.Y. and California and have traveled extensively throughout the US and abroad. Since arriving in Tennessee in 1986 I have also traveled with my former Bluegrass band and after arriving in Knoxville in 1991 I traveled internationally with my one-woman show which I created and in which I performed.

My educational background includes a Ph.D. in political science (B.A. and Ph.D at the University of California; M.A. at Yale) and a law degree (Northeastern School of Law in Boston). My professional experience has included teaching political science at the university level, an academic deanship, working for the U.S. Department of Education and also at the White House in Washington D.C. In addition I have been a consultant to a wide range of legal, political, community, and international development organizations. I have been on the Board of Directors of organizations in cities where I have resided, have owned several small businesses and been elected to public service in New York, California and Connecticut and previously ran for Mayor of Knoxville, TN.

R. Neal's picture

Jethro asked Uncle Jed, and


Jethro asked Uncle Jed, and he said he reckoned there'd be these here candidates on the ballot for governor:

Bill Haslam (Republican), Knoxville
Charlie Brown (Democrat), Oakdale
Shaun Crowell (Constitution), Spring Hill
Isa Infante (Green), Knoxville
Daniel T. Lewis (Independent), Nashville
Steven Damon Coburn (Independent), Cookeville
John Jay Hooker (Independent), Nashville

Uncle Jed said he kinda likes Isa Infante 'cause she's right smart. Granny thinks that John Jay Hooker feller hung the moon. Elly May said Mr. Drysdale told her to vote for that Haslam boy so she could get a bigger cement pond with all the money they'd save on taxes. Miss Jane said that there list could change 'cause of some litter gatin' or sumthin'. Ain't none of them can cipher out how them amendments work, though. Granny's gonna study some possum entrails.

John Sevier's picture

If all else fails...

...read the constitution.

There looks to be a fundamental error in rneal's original interpretation here, but there's also an important distinction that makes Humphrey's blog incorrect as well.

The Tennessee Constitution says this about votes for amendments, following an explanation of passing it twice through the legislature first:

"And if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of this Constitution."

Perhaps there's established case law or legal opinions that would offer further clarity, but just based on what's actually written in the state constitution, you can

1. Vote for any candidate you like for governor, including a write-in. A write-in is a vote for governor.

2. You must cast a vote for governor if you want an affirmative vote for an amendment to count.

3. An amendment wins when a majority of those who cast a vote for governor also vote "yes" for the amendment.

That's the stickler. The constitution does not say that an amendment wins with a majority of the NUMBER of votes cast in the gubernatorial race. The constitution says that you first must pull the list of voters who cast a vote for governor, and then FROM THAT LIST, see if a majority of those voters voted in the affirmative for the amendment.

Again, maybe there's case law that establishes some other interpretation, but the language seems, when you break it down, to be fairly clear.

Your vote for the amendment only counts if you also voted for governor. If you have five million votes in favor of an amendment, but none of those votes were cast by people who cast a vote for governor, the amendment should fail.

The lesson here is that voters who oppose an amendment should, WITHOUT FAIL, cast a vote for governor, then vote no on the amendment.

Second, activists who oppose the amendment must insist that this interpretation of the way this process works is understood and enforced with the counting of votes for the amendments. If election commissions simply tally the number of votes cast for governor, and compare that to the number of "yes" votes for an amendment, they've failed to carry out what's required in the constitution.

R. Neal's picture

That's interesting. Yet

That's interesting. Yet another twist. Wonder if Hart, Diebold, etc. can even do that? My head hurts.

Bill Lyons's picture

This is not an abstract issue

This vote requirement for amendments is a real issue with real history and a lot of precedent. We have had lots of votes on Constitutional amendments and results have always been determineed on the basis of total votes for Governor as the basis for a needed vote for an amendment.

For instance "Amendment 2" to allow the General General Assembly to set the maximum fine received a majority of votes cast on that measure (53%, or 702,434 vs 47% or 623,535) yet the item failed because it did not achieve a total that exceeded 50% of the votes cast for Governor in that election. It needed to receive 826,584 votes to be approved. The total vote in the Governor's contest was

One can get a sense of the roll-off. There were 1,653,167 votes cast for Governor and only 1,325,969 voted on the amendment. That means 327,199 rolled off. All of those counted as the equivalent of "No."

There was not and has never been fishing through ballots or machine records to assure that those who voted on the amendment had voted for Governor. Odds are that virtually all did, of course, given the results and what we know about voting and roll-off.

Someone might want to maintain that the Constitution has been misapplied until now and such a requirement is necessary this November. That would make for an interesting ballot counting exercise. In any event I would classify line of argumentation as a bit of a long shot.

R. Neal's picture

With a database it wouldn't

With a database it wouldn't be that hard. Just select out all the ballots where there is a vote for governor AND a vote for the amendment. Then tally the yes/no votes for the amendment from that set. Repeat for each amendment.

I seriously doubt*, though, that the electronic voting systems we're using now have that capability built-in? It would have to be done by accessing the database outside the voting application. That would open up a whole 'nother can of worms.

(*I'm learning, though, that the more certain I am about something these days the less likely I'm correct.)

John Sevier's picture

The corallary

If it turns out that all ballots statewide cannot be cross-tabulated to only count amendment votes from people who voted in the gubernatorial race, but an amendment is said to have passed, based only on a comparison of tallies of votes cast for governor and of affirmative votes for the amendment, it should be legally challenged. Presumably the onus is on election commissioners and the Secretary of State proving that the thing passed, not that it didn't.

Depending on what those final tallies are, it's possible that it could be statistically shown that a sufficient number of the amendment "ayes" had to have been cast by qualified gubernatorial race voters, but that would set the bar considerably higher than just a straight 50% +1 comparative tally. In that case, the stats would have to show that there are no possible scenarios where less than that 50% +1 number of "ayes" could be unequivocally attributed to qualified voters.

Maybe these bridges have already been crossed, and someone out there has a definitive answer to all this. If not, then people had better start asking questions and start figuring it out.

yellowdog's picture

Vote No on One

If you oppose Amendment One, vote no. If you REALLY oppose the elimination of the right to have an abortion in TN even if you (or your mother or daughter or niece or neighbor or a total stranger) is raped or the victim of incest or will die without it, then find some candidate for governor to throw your vote away on and hold your nose.

The people who favor Amendment One are telling their supporters they do NOT have to vote for governor, so they, too, have figured this out. The more votes cast for governor, the harder it is to pass Amendment One.

Do not be fooled into thinking this is about anything else but the chance to ban ALL abortions in TN if Roe v. Wade is overturned as well as the chance to pass draconian restrictions even if Roe v. Wade is not overturned.

Knoxgal's picture

Tell it


R. Neal's picture

Thanks, Yellowdog. This is

Thanks, Yellowdog. This is the best advice.

I apologize for bringing confusion to the matter, but at least it's all aired out and I'm pretty sure I know what to do now.

In fact, I've been thinking for a while now that trying to figure out how to game the system is generally a losing proposition and you're better off just voting your convictions.

(Unless, like us, you are faced with a literally blank primary ballot from time to time and cross over to vote the lesser of evils.)

Mike Knapp's picture



CE Petro's picture


Thank you!

Cece's picture

as seen on SPEAK

I will write in Tim Burchett's name for the Governors race. Bill Haslam's assault on education is a travesty. Tim Burchett has stood up for teachers, students, and parents. He has stood up to Dr. Jim McIntyre's illegal conduct and Sunshine Law violation.

I cannot think of a better protest vote.

teacher in ktown's picture


"I will write in Tim Burchett's name for the Governors race. Bill Haslam's assault on education is a travesty. Tim Burchett has stood up for teachers, students, and parents. He has stood up to Dr. Jim McIntyre's illegal conduct and Sunshine Law violation."

What a wonderful idea. thank you so much.

Hildegard's picture

The irony here is stunning,

The irony here is stunning, since Tim Burchett would outlaw abortion by decree given the chance.

Knoxgal's picture

You're right on that one

I will cast a write-in vote if that's what's needed to make my NO vote count on Amendment 1, but it won't be for Tim Burchett.

yellowdog's picture

Write ins do not count!

For a vote to count as being for a candidate for governor for purposes of defeating Amendment One, that vote must be for a candidate whose name is ON the ballot.

This is not a game or a place to be clever or pure.

Pam Strickland's picture

The very thought of voting

The very thought of voting for Burchett in any capacity gives me the heeby-jeebies.

At the moment not voting for governor is probably my best option, although a write-in protest vote is a strong possibility. I stopped trading at Piilot during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign because I found Bill Haslam so arrogant. And, he's proven to be nothing but clueless since taking office. I will give him credit for not joining Ramsey's campaign against the Supreme Court justices. But that's not much in a four year term.

jbr's picture

If I were to take that

If I were to take that approach mayor Rogero would get my writein vote.

Knoxgal's picture

Mayor Rogero

Mayor Rogero did get my write-in vote for county mayor. In both the primary and the general.

Hildegard's picture

I'm voting for Basil

I'm voting for Basil Marceaux. I am not kidding.

Dahlia's picture

I voted for Basil

In the primaries. I crossed over and voted against all incumbents (with the exception of the justices).

Dahlia's picture

Why would anyone

Vote for a Republican while voting "no" to this amendment? That doesn't even make sense.

For heavens sake, even if you don't like the Democrat, at least he's not a Republican who is FOR this horrible amendment. Look at it as voting AGAINST these jerks. Definitely a no brainer for me.

Dahlia's picture

Except for..

Basil, of course. He's my one exception. ;)

Dahlia's picture

I read...

The article and it sounds like this law makes it much harder for amendments to pass, which is great in this case. Since so many people go in and only cast their votes for the top players and don't bother with the other "little" things, it's going to take a LOT of "yes" votes to overcome the 50% mark. Seems to me they cooked their goose on this one.

Vote "no" and vote against Haslam.

oldnorthknoxhippy's picture

Isa Infante might be the best

Isa Infante might be the best candidate, but if one believes in miracles Charlie Brown might have a chance. At least he's pro-union and "knows what it's like to work for a living."

G. B. Templeton's picture

Amendment I

Contrary to your blog - there is NOT Amendment being voted on that will ban abortions. Please read the wording of the amendment and understand.

We are still in the age of back alley abortions - there are NOT required inspections or regulations on abortion facilities

We do NOT require parental consent for an underage girl to obtain an abortion

We do NOT require that risky late term abortions be done in a hospital

We do NOT require a period of waiting prior to an abortion being sought - time during which the girl could read about and understand the process, the dangers, and the options.

We need Amendment One = it will allow us, the voters, to put restrictions on abortions. The blood is on our hands. Are we encroaching on the choice of a woman? No - she has that choice when she chooses to engage in activity that can possibly lead to a pregnancy - that's when she should make a wise choice. Are we challenging her reproductive health? No - we are trying to make all of this a health-wise situation.

Note - no mention of the term "Baby" is ever mentioned in my comments. However, just as we respect the sea turtles, the whales, eagles, dolphins - whatever we respect and try to preserve these days - will anyone speak up for the unborn baby????

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I strongly recommend that you cease getting your information on this topic from anonymous forwarded e-mails and instead become acquainted with Tennessee law.

Abortion clinics ARE "inspected."

The consent of one of a minor's parents IS required.

Third trimester abortions ARE required to be performed in hospitals.

Only your contention that TN does not require any "waiting period" is correct--most likely due to a concern that miscreants like you might seize such an opportunity to bombard vulnerable young women with your reams of disinformation.

Link to an overview of current TN law on abortion (with citations in Code) here.

A direct link to the Code cited above, namely TCA 39-15-201 to 209 and 37-10-301 to 307, is available free to the public at LexisNexis, here.

Min's picture

Vote No on all the amendments.

It's the safest bet for TN.

Rachel's picture

Nope. Vote Yes on 2. If it

Nope. Vote Yes on 2. If it doesn't pass, the next thing the legislature will hand us is popular election of appellate and Supreme Court judges. Count on it.

Min's picture

Bad reasoning.

You should not support a bad constitutional amendment, because a worse one might come along. That's abdicating your responsibility as a citizen to make sure your State Constitution doesn't devolve into a piece of reactionary crap to which anyone can force an amendment simply by threatening to promote a more despicable option.

Hayduke's picture

The question is whether the

The question is whether the current system will continue to stand up to legal challenges. If at some point a suit claiming that “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state” means what it sounds like it means, we'll be up to our asses in Pridemores, no worse amendment required. Amendment 2 keeps that from happening at the cost of giving the governor more power over selecting judges.

Rachel's picture

Well, excuse me. I take my

Well, excuse me. I'd forgotten that you're not allowed to have differing views on KV anymore.

I take my "responsibility as a citizen" quite seriously. If that leads me to a different place than it leads you, it doesn't mean I'm "abdicating" my responsibilities.

I live in the real world. And to use one of those clichés Bean keeps fussing at me about, sometimes you can't let the better be the enemy of the good.

If amendment 2 fails, I will resist the urge to say "I told you so" when we end up with Pridemores at the state level.

Oh wait, no I won't.

Min's picture

Why are you getting so pissy?

Because I don't agree with your reasoning? Because I expressed a different opinion than yours? How ironic.

Rachel's picture

You're the one who's ironic.

You're the one who's ironic. My expression of an opinion different from yours led you to attack me as someone who was "abdicating my responsibilities as a citizen." And then you call me pissy because you attacked me? I don't know about pissy, but I am pissed.

Disagree with me, fine. You can do it without impugning my citizenship.

bizgrrl's picture

I agree with Rachel on this

I agree with Rachel on this one.

Origami's picture

FYI Isa Infante has a good summary on the amendments

If you want to read about the amendments and Isa Infante, Green Party candidate for governor at the same time, here's a link: (link...)

Knoxgal's picture

Guess what

Guess what, married women have abortions, too. Do you think they should stop having sex with their husbands?

And guess what else - sex isn't dirty! Except in your mind. Even good little Baptist girls who take a pledge of abstinence until marriage have been shown to be having high rates of sex. With their Baptist boyfriends.

You don't care anything about saving babies. You only care about punishing women you perceive as wanton for having premarital sex. You don't care what kind of life that child will lead once born. And you want to do this because you're nasty, small minded and judgemental.

Dahlia's picture

What Knoxgal said.

What Knoxgal said.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


And after you plow through the Tennessee Code, re-read Knoxgal's post.

You can move your lips as you read, if you need to.

Knoxgal's picture


+1 Made me laugh aloud.

Factchecker's picture

Go, Isa! (whoever she is)

I don't think it's worth the risk of not having a legitimate gov vote being counted to do a write-in. I say vote for Isa Infante or anyone else that already appears on the ballot other than Haslam or the (non-) "Democrat."

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I believe Michael Kaplan knows Isa personally and speaks highly of her?

Her academic cred sure is strong.

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