Election commission responds to voter issues at the polls

Election commission responds to voter issues at the polls

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - According to research analysed and released by NBC News, almost 300,000 Tennesseans have cast their votes early for the mid-terms with Republican-affiliated voters making up 63 percent of that vote.

Democratic leaders allege a conspiracy behind the disparity.

Tennessee Democrats are crying foul. They claim Democratic voters are being suppressed in Shelby County and statewide, and they want things to change.

However, the Shelby County Election Commission has fired back, saying early voting is going smoothly.

Democratic leaders claim some strange things have been happening during early voting, like malfunctioning voting machines, unregistered voters and delayed Shelby County voting return numbers.

The election commission says their concerns are unfounded.

“Election commissions, they just need to do their job,” said Mary Mancini, chair of the TN Democratic Party.

“All I want is a fair election for Shelby County voters, for them to cast their ballot for the person they want to, that’s all I care about,” said Corey Strong, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party.

The Chairs of the Tennessee and Shelby County Democratic Parties addressed a number of their concerns Monday.

Those concerns include:

  • Voter Purging: Democratic leaders claim 25,000 Shelby County voters have been purged from registrations rolls  
  • Registration Issues: Democrats claim there have been long lines from unregistered voters due to delays in the system  
  • The large font ballot pushes Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean’s name to the second page amongst independents. 

“When you look at these issues combined, it really becomes deeply, deeply troubling that there are systemic issues going on here in Tennessee,” Mancini said.

Linda Phillips with the Shelby County Election Commission responded, saying voter purging is required by state and federal law.

“We really don’t have a problem here,” Phillips said.

She claims problems with a new registration system have not caused delays, and they've almost caught up on all registrations.

Phillips also said poll workers are instructing voters to not use the large text ballot, with signs posted at every voting machine.

She said their accusations are “really grasping.” Phillips said early voting is going well, with close to 50,000 ballots already cast.

“It's an unusually high turnout for a midterm,” Phillips said.

Democratic leaders also said Shelby County is the last county in the state to return early voting returns.

The Election Commission said because they are using a new, faster registration system but because it is new, they are double checking the numbers before releasing them to make sure they are right.

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