Polling Issues Continue in Early Voting

By Bill Dries

Since early voting in advance of the Aug. 2 election day began Friday, July 13, there haven’t been any reports of problems with voter identification.

There have, however, been problems with some voters not getting the right ballot with all of the races those voters are entitled to make choices in on touch-screen machines.

Just as election officials completed some retraining for election workers at suburban precincts Monday, there were new complaints Tuesday in Memphis that voters at some precincts in districts affected by state legislative redistricting may have been getting the wrong ballots.

David Holt, a blogger and voter for state House District 93, complained Tuesday evening that election officials had him listed as a voter in state House District 98 even though he still lives in District 93 and was unaffected by the new boundaries.

He verified that on the state of Tennessee website. The map there shows his house is in the middle of District 93 and nowhere near the changing borders.

“It’s hard to get farther from the boundaries in this district than I am,” Holt wrote in his blog. “You can see … that my house is a mile from the District 98 line.”

Shelby County Election Commissioner George Monger was in contact with Holt Tuesday evening.

Holt’s response to the problem was the correct one, according to election commissioners. He did not go ahead and vote. He left without voting after failing to get a response from a supervisor at that time.

There were 4,853 early voters in Shelby County on Tuesday, giving a four-day total of 10,493 voters. Of that total, 5,780 cast ballots in the Republican primaries, 4,465 in the Democratic primaries and 248 in the general election only.

The question for election officials is how many voters are leaving but not complaining and not returning.

The first problems with the election came on the opening on Monday, July 16, of early voting at 20 satellite locations across Shelby County. Some voters living in Bartlett but in precincts that include those who live outside the city limits as well began complaining that their ballots didn’t include the ballot questions on forming a municipal school district.

Meanwhile, it was hard to tell the turnout in the suburbs once the satellite sites opened because the Shelby County Election Commission stopped posting voter turnout statistics this week that it had posted for Friday and Saturday, when early voting opened at Election Commission headquarters Downtown only.

However, voter turnout numbers for the first day of voting at the satellite sites were posted Tuesday on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website including how many had voted daily in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

The state total for Tuesday shows 4,853 early voters that day for a four-day total of 10,493.

Through Tuesday, 5,780 of the early voters cast ballots in the Republican primaries and 4,465 in the Democratic primaries. The remaining 248 voted in the general election only.

On the first day of voting at the satellite sites, there were 973 more Republican primary voters than Democratic primary voters. On the second day, there were 573 more Republican primary voters than Democrats.