School Closings

Voters experience technical issues on first day of early voting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Early voting started on Wednesday but there were some issues that delayed voters from casting their ballots.

Officials and voters both say it was an issue with the Internet. But while voters are frustrated, officials are downplaying the impact.

Eddie Phillips came to the Abundant Grace Fellowship Church on Shelby Drive on Wednesday morning to have his say.

“I came here at 11 a.m. to vote and they were already having problems. They said something was wrong with the Internet,” he said.

Phillips isn’t alone. Election officials said they had connectivity issues in up to 10 locations, keeping poll workers from being able to electronically check in voters.

“We just moved to the manual process. It’s old school, but it works,” Election Administrator Linda Phillips said.

Some people had delays as long as an hour due to the check-in issues. But Linda Phillips said everyone was still able to vote on a machine.

“This is unfortunately just part of the process when poll workers are the ones setting up,” she said. “You’re always gonna have issues because these are human beings, friends and neighbors running this. For the most part they do a fabulous job. But it’s unrealistic for us to expect them to be experts.”

But voters like Eddie Phillips say it’s frustrating.

“It discourages people from voting,” he said.

City Council Chair Berlin Boyd agreed.

“That’s unacceptable,” Boyd said. “At some point, whether it’s purchasing new equipment or looking at concerns with the network, we must do something. Because this is a problem.”

In fact, the election commission administrator agreed with Boyd on that; she said the current machines are at least 10 years old and need to be replaced. She said she’s hoping to put out bids for new machines next month. But the Shelby County Commission would have to fund the new machines.