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VOL. 131 | NO. 71 | Friday, April 8, 2016

Shelby County Election Commission Hires New Coordinator

By Bill Dries

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The Shelby County Election Commission voted Friday, April 8, to hire Linda Phillips, a former county clerk in Tippecanoe County, Ind., to be the next Shelby County elections coordinator.

And election commission chairman Robert Meyers said later that Phillips has accepted the job at a salary of $108,000 a year, the same salary Richard Holden was making in the job.

Holden retired at the end of 2015 and the search for a new coordinator has taken longer than expected.

The election commission’s first choice, Wilson County, Tenn., assistant elections administrator Tammy Smith, turned down a job offer in February, reopening the process.

Phillips had been a finalist in the group that included Smith.

Meyers said the election commission’s goal is to have Phillips in Memphis and working by mid-May as the county’s election machinery is being prepared for the Aug. 4 state and federal primary elections.

“My belief will be that she will maintain the status quo through this election cycle,” Meyers said, “and use that as an opportunity to evaluate and work with people to make sure they are successful and the kind of people she wants on her team.”

Each state has different elections laws and procedures, sometimes different procedures from one county to the next. Meyers points out that Tippecanoe County uses the same touch screen voting machines Shelby County uses.

The job of administering elections is part of the job of being county clerk in Indiana and the clerk’s position is an elected position. Phillips served two terms from 2003-2010 and then ran for and was elected Tippecanoe County Assessor. She lost a re-election bid for assessor in 2014.

She told election commissioners here that she would like to explore some kind of audit trail for voters to either see or keep to verify their votes. She also talked about new voting technology as well as Indiana’s use of voting centers that bring together voters from numerous precincts in a smaller number of central locations to vote on election day.

The voting centers would be similar to the early voting locations used in advance of election day in Tennessee.

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