Shelby County Election Commission expects to mail absentee ballots within days

Election administrator explains time-consuming process of counting absentee ballots

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Election Commission expects to begin mailing absentee ballots this week.

According to a news release, the Election Commission received 175,000 paper ballots Monday at the O.C. Pleasant Jr. Election Operations Center. The ballots must first be unpacked and inventoried before they can be mailed to voters.

The inventory process could take a few days with 14 employees working on the task. If all goes well, the first batch of ballots will be mailed Wednesday.

“As soon as the ballot was approved by the Coordinator of Elections in Nashville, it was sent to a commercial printer,” said Linda Phillips, elections administrator. “A print order of this size isn’t an overnight job.”

To date, the Election Commission has received nearly 20,000 requests for absentee mail-in ballots, about 16,000 more requests than in 2016.

Ballots will not be mailed in the order requests were made; rather, ballots are separated by precinct.

“Having workers run from one group of ballots to another simply to fulfill the requests according to the date received is not the most efficient way to get the ballots to the voters,” said Phillips. “This method is the quickest and most efficient. We know voters are eager to get their ballots, and we are working to get them their ballots as soon as humanly possible."

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27, but voters should allow sufficient time to move through the postal system. Ballots must arrive by mail by close of business Election Day.

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