State Investigating Shelby County Poll Problems
(Memphis) – The State of Tennessee has taken notice of what Shelby County voters know all to well.
“It’s a disaster to be honest. Memphis has had a track record of faulty elections and I think citizens are really tired of it,” voter Austin Kemker said. “It needs a change.”
The state hopes an audit of the Election Commission will do just that. In a letter to the Comptroller the Secretary State asks for an audit. The letter says, “nearly every election cycle in the county in recent memory has been plagued by a myriad of errors and complaints of wrongdoing.”
The letter then outlines a history of problems in Shelby County Dating back to 2005. That year a special election was voided because deceased people and ineligible felons voted.
In 2006, candidates sued the county election commission alleging that irregularities had affected the outcome of the county general election.
In 2010, an elections official loaded the wrong information on an electronic pollbook which showed thousands of people had cast ballots when they really hadn’t.
Then there’s this year, where so far more than 2000 people have been given the wrong ballots at the polls. That’s about 5% of the ballots cast so far.
The Secretary of State says in his letter, “while each example is in and of itself unacceptable, together they indicate a troubling pattern of errors that cannot go unnoticed.”
“We’re certainly not pleased with the position we find ourselves in we recognize we are the people who put us there,” Shelby County Elections Chairman Robert Meyers said.
Meyers agreed an audit needs to be done to uncover why these problems keep happening.
We asked if it the problem lies at the top, with the administrator. Meyers said,” I really couldn’t say at this point if that’s true issue or not.”
He added the audit should help answer that question.
He did however say that he believes the root of this year’s problem lies in the complexity of redistricting.
“We’re working very hard around the clock so people can feel confident that they will get the correct ballot and we can count it correctly,” he said.
Some voters say the problems haven’t shaken their confidence in the elections process.
“I do have tremendous faith in this,” Cheryl Coletta said. ” I think we can vote with confidence.
However the majority of the voters we spoke with sounded more like Austin Kemker.
“We might need to start fresh clean sweep it. The Election Commission isn’t doing there job very good,” he said.
State officials could not tell us when they expected to start the audit or how long it could take.
Early voting ends Saturday. So far almost 48,000 people have voted early.