Problems at the poll: Candidate’s name knocked off ballot

Problems at polls

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Big words on the Shelby County ballot caused big problems for election officials Friday night.

This issue so troublesome to Democrats, a U.S. Congressman asked the Secretary of State to step in and fix it.

When you vote, the names of the Republican and Democratic candidates appear right at the top of the ballot.

But if you switch your ballot to larger text so the words are bigger and easier to read, the Democratic nominee for Governor Karl Dean gets lost in the shuffle.

"State law requires that the Republican and Democrat be at the top,” said U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D).

Cohen sad Dean's name was nowhere near the top of his ballot when he early voted Friday.

"I feel confident that there were people that did not vote for Karl Dean who wanted to vote for Karl Dean because they didn't see his name on the first page,” Cohen said.

"We became aware of the issue on the first day of early voting,” said Linda Phillips, administrator of Shelby County Election Commission. “We had two complaints of the more than 10,000 voters who voted on the machines."

Phillips showed us the issue: only one column's displayed when using large text, pushing Dean's name originally top right down to the middle of page two.

"There were some objections to that, so the fix: we've asked voters not to use large text, but instead we have handheld magnifying glasses,” Phillips said.

Signs will be posted at check-in desks and on every voting machine that magnifying glasses are available by request at each precinct.

After talking with the Secretary of State's office, Phillips said this is their only viable solution.

"This is really our best option,” Phillips said. “Yeah, it's not ideal, but we cannot change the ballot at this point. More than 25,000 people have already voted."

Dean’s campaign sent this statement in response:

"We are very disappointed in how this is being handled. We are asking to have this issue fixed by the time polls open tomorrow."

Phillips says that’s the plan.

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