Voters grow concerned as county faces backlog for absentee ballot requests

Voters grow concerned as county faces backlog for absentee ballot requests
Tennessee absentee ballot (Source: WMC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A major backlog is forming as thousands of Shelby County voters request ballots for next month’s election and voters are beginning to wonder when they will receive them.

The short answer is by the end of the week. About 2,000 went out Tuesday, another 4,000 over the weekend.

Tuesday night the election administrator is dealing with worried voters, some who have been waiting nearly four months to get their ballot in the mail.

Hundreds in Shelby County have already cast their ballots for their candidates of choice during early voting. But thousands opted out of in-person voting.

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“Me and my family have been staying very safe and only going out for essential trips so we were wanting to make sure to continue that even through the voting process,” said resident Melissa Ungberg.

Unberg cares for a number of family members with a compromised immune system and chose to apply for an absentee ballot on June 22, nearly a month later still no ballot.

“I don’t know if it’s a problem with mail service not getting them mailed out,” said Unberg. “I want to make sure my ballot gets to the election commission in time so it’s counted.”

Absentee ballots have to be returned by election day, Aug. 6.

And lots of people are worried.

“Absentee. OK. I’m sure your phones have been hanging off the hook about absentee ballots.”

During Tuesday’s Shelby County Election Commission meeting, Election Administrator Linda Phillips said due to ballots not being finalized by the state until June 30 and a mistake by the printer, absentee ballots were a week late being sent out.

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“How do you ease the fears of these voters who say what if my vote isn’t counted?” asked Phillips. “Well, that’s one of the risks with absentee ballots, even if they got their ballot today there is always the possibility that you will not receive it.”

But Phillips says you should get your absentee ballot in plenty of time.

There have been 15,000 absentee ballot requests.

About 8,000 of the requests received before July 10 have been mailed out.

Voters can also track their absentee ballot at govotetn.gov

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