County commissioners say voters disenfranchised in early runoff voting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several Shelby County commissioners and candidates said Tuesday they're disappointed that only one voting location is open for early voting in runoff elections in the District 1 and District 7 City Council races  — and it's not in either of those districts.

Out of 90,000 registered voters in those two districts, only 41 have voted since Friday. District 1 candidate Rhonda Logan said she thinks voters are being disenfranchised because they can't easily get to the polls.

But the county election commission said it's following the same procedure it has followed for more than 20 years by opening additional locations later in the early voting cycle.

"This is perfectly normal," Election Commission Administrator Linda Phillips said.

Early voting in the council runoffs began Friday. Election Day is Nov. 14.

So far, the only place to vote is at the Shelby County Office Building at 157 Poplar Ave. But on Nov. 1, five more locations in Cordova, Frayser, Berclair, North Memphis and Raleigh will open up.

It's a matter of cost, Phillips said, because turnout in these elections is low, and more locations bring added expense.

Eight of the 13 county commissioners — Chairman Pro Tempore Eddie S. Jones, Jr., along with commissioners Van D. Turner, Jr.; Reginald Milton; Edmund Ford, Jr.; Mickell Lowery; Tami Sawyer; Willie F. Brooks, Jr.; and Michael Whaley — have requested equitable practices in administering elections in Shelby County.

Phillips said since early voting started in 1994, the downtown location has always been the only location open for the first few days.

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