Election results could be slowed after Shelby County commissioners vote ‘no’ on new machines, official says

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Results could be slower in the upcoming election after county commissioners said no to a nearly $6 million contract for a new voting system, Shelby County’s elections administrator says.

In a 6-5 vote Monday, Shelby County Commissioners decided not to approve a $5.8 million contract proposed for new software, scanners and ballot on-demand printers.

“While they don’t feel there’s any urgency, I do,” elections administrator Linda Phillips said.

Several people spoke at the commission meeting, urging commissioners not to support the proposal.

Some commissioners also questioned the cost of the full system, which is not expected to be used until 2022. 

But Phillips said she was hoping to use the scanners next month.

“I’m very disappointed that the county commission chose to ignore the advice of the people who run their elections, and I think they have done their constituents a grave disservice,” Phillips said.

As for November 3, Phillips said, “I have two choices now. I can either take one of the scanners, one of the large scanners and leave it at the Operations Center which will make ballot counting much slower at the FedExForum, or the ballots that come in on Election Day, I can process them, I mean they have to be checked in to our voter registration system, and then they go to teams to be opened.”

Then they would be taken down to the FedExForum, but Phillips said that will add time before they can be processed.

As for when the public can expect results, Phillips said, “I’m hoping by midnight on Election Day but I don’t know.”

Phillips said renting machines is not an option for security reasons. She wants them to be factory sealed.

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