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VOL. 127 | NO. 221 | Monday, November 12, 2012

2013 is the Right Year for Election Reform

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Shelby County needs a change in those running the election machinery.

The time for a change will never be better because 2013 is supposed to be an off-election year.

It is also the year before the “big ballot” – the once-every-eight-year ballot that includes judicial races and those for other offices that have an eight year term of office. It is the longest ballot in terms of races and candidates of any election cycle in Shelby County.

Imagine the completely avoidable problems that plagued the August elections with that ballot and it is much easier to understand how crucial it is that the ongoing election syndrome present at the Shelby County Election Commission comes to an end.

State law in Tennessee may say that an election challenge is only valid if there are enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the race. But the standard is much higher if not as enforceable when it comes to voter confidence.

And if partisans on both sides could stop trying to exploit these problems and point them like daggers at those on the other side for imagined political advantage, we could begin to repair the tattered fabric of voter confidence in this county.

If that sounds like a parallel to national calls for warriors of both parties to put aside partisan differences to work toward solutions, we won’t complain.

Nationally as well as locally we cannot afford the luxury of political professionals using real issues and problems as a storyline for their version of professional wrestling. There is no mandate and, more importantly, no change when continuing the storyline with the same cast is the real goal.

What hasn’t changed is the attitude that is at the heart of a cumulative problem of attitude and philosophy. When problems cropped up in Millington toward the end of the early voting period, the response from election officials was that this didn’t affect a lot of voters. In August the response was that the problems would be straightened out before election day.

The standard for winning back the confidence of voters in Shelby County is an accountable, responsible process for every voter – not most, not virtually all – every voter.

We also suggest a working single source of election returns on a website whose goal is not to hide vital and basic information.

And the release of those election returns starting with the early vote as soon as the last voter has voted – not after that voter has had a bite to eat, watched a bit of television and gone to bed for the night.

And let’s try to get the precincts to some kind of ballpark average in terms of the number of voters in each one. The uneven size and political peculiarities created some of the redistricting problems that were responsible for the August election problems – along with a healthy dose of ineptness.

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