Election officials warn what you shouldn’t do at the polls

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Early voting ended Thursday afternoon for next week's Shelby County primary.

Tuesday, May 1 is Election Day and the election commission has a few reminders for you and for those campaigning.

"We've gotten a number of complaints about candidates' representatives outside the polls who are excessively enthusiastic approaching voters," said Linda Phillips, Shelby County Administrator of Elections.

Phillips said he department has fielded dozens of calls from voters feeling intimidated by campaigners as they walk in to cast their ballot.

"It has been particularly bad during this election," Phillips said. "At one location I observed there were about 20 people converging on a voter wanting to give them literature."

Signs sit 100 feet away from the polling place entrance to indicate how far from the door campaign representatives must stand.

Shelby County Sheriff's Office is charged with enforcing the rule, and Phillips said deputies will be watching on Election Day. If campaigners cross the 100-foot barrier, they will be removed from the area.

"Even my husband was freaked out by the people swarming him when he went to vote," Philips said.

Another no-no is cell phone pictures inside the polling place.

Who can forget the viral selfie back in 2016 by Justin Timberlake in Germantown that broke state law?

Despite attempts by lawmakers to change it, they haven't.

"They can't take pictures of their ballots; they can't take pictures of themselves. Sorry, this is a selfie-free zone in a polling place," Phillips said.

If you know someone who is hospitalized and unable to vote, you can let the election commission know, and they will send a bipartisan team out to allow them to vote.

The only people permitted in the polling place during voting hours are:

  • Election Commission Staff with badges  (Our machine techs wear special shirts and have badges;  all others have specific badges.)
  • Election Officials appointed by the Election Commission
  • Voters casting their own ballots
  • Persons properly assisting voters
  • Poll watchers with credentials who check in with the Officer
  • News Media
  • Children under age 17 may accompany their parents or legal guardians in to the polls and even into the voting booth.

The practical effect of this is that candidates and campaign workers may not enter the polling place, even to use the restrooms.

Candidates should also not offer lunch, food, cookies, candy, or anything of value to election workers. Election officials have been instructed not to accept anything of value from candidates or their campaigns.

For more information, visit the Shelby County Election Commission's website.

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