Mayor addresses alleged early voting problems - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Syan Rhodes

Mayor addresses alleged early voting problems

Mayor Herenton speaks Wednesday morning. Mayor Herenton speaks Wednesday morning.

YOU CAN WATCH RAW VIDEO OF BOTH PRESS CONFERENCES IN THE PLAYER TO THE RIGHT OF THIS STORY.

At a press conference called Wednesday morning by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton the Mayor and other city officials expressed grave concerns about the current voting situation in Memphis.

Citing phone calls made to the Mayor's office and the Memphis City Attorney's office, Herenton said City Attorney Elbert Jefferson would head up the city's efforts to correct the situation.

Jefferson, who was appointed to office by Mayor Herenton, said his actions were for the protection of Memphis voters, not out of loyalty to the Mayor.

"I personally inspected those machines, and I saw what they were doing," Jefferson said.

Jefferson said the problem with Shelby County voting machines occurs when a voter casts his or her vote for a particular candidate. According to calls made to the mayor's office, when a voter pushed a button for one candidate, because of the flaw, the vote was cast for another candidate.

"If you touch the top of a line, or the bottom of a line, it has the ability to register a vote for the candidate above or a candidate below, and that's a flaw in the system," Jefferson said.

Jefferson said actions taken by the city attorney's office would ask for a special meeting with the Shelby County Election Commission to address his concerns, as well as contact the Department of Justice to ask for special auditors to oversee the election process in Memphis.

During a second, sometimes heated press conference outside Memphis City Hall, Herenton spoke as a candidate about the situation.

"We are not going to allow this election to be stolen," Herenton said.

As a candidate, Herenton forcefully questioned the integrity of Shelby County's early voting process.

"If you ask me, as a candidate, 'Am I suspicious?' Yes I am," he said.

The mayor said he did not want early voting to be halted, but said alleged flaws in the system could not be ignored.

"It's one thing if the Herenton era ends because voters decided it," he said.  "It's another if it's decided because of some manipulation of voting machines."

Herenton also used the occasion as an opportunity to take a jab at one of the other mayoral candidates.

"There are candidates who are in this race who mathematically cannot win this race," he said. "For whatever reason, he's in some illusion that he can win, but he can't.  This is a race between Carol Chumney and Willie Herenton."

Herenton denied claims by his opponents that this was simply a delay tactic by a desperate and losing campaign.

"We know we are ahead in early voting," he said. "We know that when early voting ends we will be ahead. We also know that if this process has integrity on October 4th, we will be ahead."


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