Voters try out new voting machine in runoff election for two Collierville alderman seats

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COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Early voting is underway, again. This time it is a runoff election for two Collierville alderman seats.

As the city of Collierville is preparing for another election, the Shelby County Election Commission is trying out some new equipment. Officials said by law they were basically forced to try the new technology.

As people are heading to the polls, this time, the voting machines look different. They are using ballot marking devices from a company called Election Systems Software.

“This was kinda forced on us because we used every piece of equipment we had for the November 3 election,” Linda Phillips, the Shelby County Elections Administrator, said. “And, Tennessee law doesn’t allow you to reuse that machine until five days after impound when you the election is certified which won’t happen until November 23.”

Phillips said her team dug deep into its budget. They bought a few ballot marking devices, at a total cost of just under $12,000. 

Phillips explained the process. She said the voter checks in like they normally do, and they are given a card for their correct precinct. Then they will insert it in the express book.

After that, Phillips said the voter makes their selections, and the card will print. Then, the voter will review what’s on that card.

Phillips added that after they review what is on the card, they will then take it to the scanner.

Using the machines in a smaller setting lets Phillips’ team collect data about how long it takes people to vote. She believes the machines help cut down on potential errors. She said the overall process is fair.

“There’s an equal number of republicans and democrats working in this room and we are very careful to make sure that the voter is not intimidated, that there is no fraud, they are who they say they are and with these new machines there’s a paper record,” Phillips said.

If a voter requests they can also get a paper ballot on the spot. Phillips said the machines will be used in future elections, if the county commission signs off on the rest of the equipment for future elections.

If not then they will most likely be sold to another Tennessee County.

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