Election integrity remains secure despite break-in at early voti - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Election integrity remains secure despite break-in at early voting location

(SOURCE: WMC Actions News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Actions News 5)
Willie Smith (SOURCE: SCSO) Willie Smith (SOURCE: SCSO)

Voting machines at an early voting location in Shelby County were not tampered with during a break-in, according to Shelby County Election Commission.

Memphis Police Department said two teenagers broke into the Greater Middle Baptist Church early voting location Sunday around 2 a.m. by breaking a window. They set the alarm off when they broke the window.

Willie Smith, 18, is charged with burglary, theft of property $500 - $1,000, vandalism $500 - $1,000, and evading arrest. A 14-year-old was also arrested and charged with the same offenses.

Election officials inspected the site and found that none of the voting machines were tampered with and no voting data was compromised.

"It was clear that the break-in was the work of amateurs," Linda Phillips, administrator of elections for Shelby County Election Commission, said. "The miscreants broke a window and tore the alarm panel off the wall. Apparently, they did not know that removing the panel sends a signal [to authorities]."

Investigators said all the seals on the voting machines were intact. All voting records matched perfectly with previous reports from the voting location. The bag containing voter access cards and other election supplies remained locked and untouched.

"I want to stress that no votes stored on the machines or on cards at the site were affected," Phillips said. "While unfortunate, this event goes to show that the equipment and cards are safe."

"They didn't even touch the machines," Phillips said. "We verified that the seals remained in tact. All of the supplies were locked up as they should have been. Nothing was touched. Nothing was tampered with."

Some voters said they felt confident the church would ensure the information was protected.

"This church has been a pinnacle in the community for years. So, I just feel like they are going to make sure that the information is protected," Kira Means, voter, said.

The pastor said the suspects were caught in the act and the items stolen from the church were retrieved.

Since early voting began on October 19, more than 7,000 people have voted at Great Middle Baptist Church.

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