Judge rules election commission must open more early voting sites

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A judge ruled Monday in favor of the Shelby County Democratic Party and the NAACP in separate lawsuits filed against the Shelby County Election Commission.

The suits alleged the election commission broke the law and disproportionately affected minority voters with changes made to early voting sites beginning Friday.

The ruling means that this Friday at least two additional early voting sites must be open at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Midtown and Ed Rice Community Center in Frayser.  All polling sites must be open for early voting July 16.

That's exactly what both plantiffs wanted.

This all started when the election commission announced the Agricenter would be the only precinct open for the first four days of early voting.

The commission said it did that so it can add five new voting sites during the remaining 10 days of early voting.

But the plaintiffs said that’s unfair to most inner city voters who can’t get out to East Memphis. They say all early voting sites should be accessible to everyone for the entirety of early voting.

But the commission says that’s impossible.

"Obviously they will comply with chancellors orders but we'll make a decision whether we'll appeal or not," said Robert Meyers, chairman of the election commission.

The commission says there are three major issues preventing all sites from opening: staffing, infrastructure or locations and the technology involved.

The election commission may ask for an emergency appeal. If so that will be discussed in court Tuesday at 10 am.