A Look At The History Of Election Problems In Shelby County

(Memphis) We are just weeks away from election day and many want to know if election problems of the past are behind us.

When it comes to voting in Shelby County, problems aren`t new.

Perhaps the most contentious and emotionally charged election was in 1991 when Willie Herenton became the first black Mayor of Memphis, by a mere 142 votes.   

Former Election Commission Chair O.C. Pleasant was on the hot seat back then, when a technical error slowed down results election night.

Some voters saw it as something else.
 
“They made  the claim they are doing something they not suppose to do down at the election commission,” says Pleasant.

He says it was one of  the most trying times at the Commission.   

But what came about 14 years later may have been even harder to swallow.

In the Ophelia Ford, Terry Roland State Senate race, it was discovered votes had been cast in the name of dead people.

Former Election Commission Member Myra Stiles said election workers committed the crime, “It wasn’t a question of voters initiating a fraud, it was two of our election officials who were illegally doing that.”

Two people were convicted

The Election Commission turned to electronics to improve voting.

But in 2010, it quickly found out there is a learning curve.

People showing up to the polls were told they already voted when they actually had not.

“A set of incorrect data was entered. It should have been data for one election and it was data for another,” says Stiles.

Two years later, the commission faced similar problems this August.

Still, election officials believe voters can have faith in the process.

“Voters should make every effort to be well prepared knowing what their rights are and who to go to for help in the event they come upon a situation,” says Pleasant.

Recent election problems led to a three-day suspension for the Election Administrator.

Officials say they are reviewing procedures  to make sure the November 6th Election goes off without a problem.