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Shelby County Election Commission could face penalties if state deadline missed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It has been seven days since voters cast their ballots, and the Shelby County Election Commission told WREG it could be weeks before final numbers are released.

The State of Tennessee has a law that states election results must be certified and turned into the secretary of state three Mondays after the election.

There is no extension to the election certification deadline.

In very rare circumstances, a court could issue an injunction halting certification.

Penalties for failing to certify by the deadline include election commissioners being removed, the administrator of elections being decertified, or the election commission not getting paid.

Any criminal charges would be up to the local district attorney.

"The election night results are uncertified," Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Robert Meyers said.

Meyers explained the commission is in the process of dotting their I's and crossing their T's.

"The process that we go through to get to certification is really called reconciliation," Meyers said.

Workers are looking at receipts from each machine and comparing those to the number of votes they have.

The numbers will then be compiled into a report and double checked by auditors before commissioners give their final stamp of approval.

"By law, we've got to the third Monday after the election to do the certification," Meyers responded when asked if results typically take this long to compile.

The law requires that all of the state's 95 counties with certification documents submit them by November 28 this year.

Only five of those counties have certified their election results as of Tuesday.

"We're in a society where we're used to getting information rather rapidly," Meyers said he understood why some people might be concerned.

While the commission has not spoken officially about what went wrong with getting preliminary numbers out in a timely fashion on election night, the group plans to discuss the issue later this month.

Reporter: Is there anything that you want to do differently next election?

Meyers: I want to make sure that the process for handling these absentee ballots is clear and that we follow that process so that we don't find ourselves in this kind of situation.

Meyers told WREG the election commission has historically made the state deadline, and the agency is planning to certify the results days before they are due.