Shelby County’s election night runs smoothly after improvements

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When election administrator Linda Phillips came to Shelby County in early 2016, she says she found a lot of bad practices.

So she overhauled the system, focusing on data.

“One of the basic things you do on election night is you make sure if 500 people voted here, you have 500 votes that have been recorded,” Phillips said. “It’s real basic but that didn’t happen before.”

She says that’s allowed her to prepare and staff a lot more appropriately for tasks like counting provisional ballots leftover from the general election.

“We know how long it takes voters to do certain tasks. I have people with stopwatches to sit there and time how long it takes to vote,” she said.

Bipartisan teams inventoried the ballots Tuesday.

She said this efficiency is also a big reason why Election Day went smoothly and they finished counting early, regular and absentee votes, all by 11 p.m. that night.

There were “very few hiccups,” she said.

But Democratic Election Commissioner Bennie Smith acknowledged that Shelby County officials still have to prove themselves.

“You can still see the distrust of the election commission through the eyes of the voter,” Smith said.

Election officials say they plan to certify all the votes cast in about a week in a half.

See Nov. 3 Election Results for the Mid-South here

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