At that time I linked to a lot of things…including the intention to cut the number of precincts to 150 from 236.
Last year’s precinct consolidation meant many voters didn’t get cards with their new location until the day of the election. It can’t have helped that the decision was made just a month before early voting was to begin…or that the body was so far behind on their redistricting procedure they fouled up the August state primary…leading to threats from the State Election Commission, a rebuke from the state Comptroller for shoddy management, two overturned elections, a further fouled up November election, and yet another rebuke…this time from the County.
Quite a resume, no?
So its probably easy to understand why someone might look at the current move with a skeptical eye.
The Election Commission is reportedly meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, October 15th at the Election Operations Center at 980 Nixon. I have no idea what’s on the agenda because it doesn’t appear on the website, nor does a meeting notice. Normal time for meetings is 4:30, but I recommend you call ahead…just to be sure. The number is 222-1200.
As you can see, transparency is highly valued at the Election Commission…even the minutes are months behind.
But according to sources this list of precinct consolidations will be up for discussion.
The 58,000 voters in the precincts that would be shut down, are 74% Democratic voters. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the partisan breakdown of the Election Commission, and the general partisan leanings of the county (which is at least 70% Democratic in November elections).
But the partisan leanings of the precincts, isn’t really the issue…its the disclosure to the voters.
There hasn’t been any…again.
If you’re concerned about these, or any other actions of the Election Commission, I recommend you go to one of their meetings. Maybe even ask a question or two. Public meetings aren’t sexy, but they are where things get done. If you don’t like what’s happened and what’s happening, you owe it to yourself to go. Nothing happens for people who don’t show up.
Here’s the information again.
Election Operations Center
Wednesday, October 14th, 4:30PM.
The meeting is open to the public.
Ed. Note:Corrected issue of appointment to fill Reginald Porter’s seat.The morning’s announcement of a decision in the contested election results of School Board Dist. 4 brings up a lot of issues just weeks before the School Board is set to shift from 23 members to 7.
The first issue is the now upcoming election. When will it be and what assurances will be made that the same problems will not mar the upcoming election?
Despite the assurances that the November election would be trouble free, a report from February showed that more than 400 voters in one precinct received the wrong ballot in one precinct that either mistakenly had, or didn’t have the City’s gas tax referendum.
But the upcoming election may not be the biggest fish to fry, or knot to untangle, and the questions could come before Judge Mays to decide.
The first question: Who, if anyone, will occupy the seat after the school board contracts to seven districts on September 1st.
Judge Mays has already determined that one seat could be left vacant until next year…the seat formerly held by Reginald Porter. Updated:The County Commission is set to appoint someone to fill the seat of Reginald Porter on September 9th…assuming it doesn’t get delayed. Will the Judge change course and allow an election on that seat at the same time? If the election is held in conjunction with the City sales tax referendum on Pre-K funding, ganging up those two seats might not be a bad idea, and would save some money for sure.
The second question, and perhaps more thorny, is that of decisions made by the school board since the certification of the August 2012 election. As Leftwingcracker points out, many of the decisions were narrow, by one vote. Will those decisions stand now that the election has been deemed irrevocably damaged or will the Judge call them into question? That’s a knot that could take a long while to deal with.
I would be surprised if Whalum didn’t ask Judge Mays to rule on these issues. Upon hearing the ruling from Chancellor Kenny Armstrong, that was the first thing I thought he would do. That’s what I would have done.
But the biggest question, one that goes well beyond the scope of the School Board, is who in the world can trust this Election Commission to do their job at this point. Between the August 2012 election that gave wrong ballots to thousands of voters and the November 2012 election that did the same to 400 voters in one precinct alone (mentioned above), who in their right mind actually thinks this Election Commission, and more importantly, this Election Administrator can do the job and conduct an election free of these kinds of completely avoidable errors.
There’s no question the Republican Shelby County Election Commissioners won’t have the guts to do what their counterparts in Nashville did just a few months ago. If anything, the local Republican Election Commissioners have doubled down in their support of Richard Holden, who they continue to allow to spread mistruths about the how and why of the problems in the August 2012 election, even after being rebuked by the Secretary of State’s office and a Comptroller’s report.
The next couple of days should be interesting. Between the school and election issues, I can’t help but believe we haven’t heard the end of this issue…and the issues surrounding it.
Election Day is over, and despite some local reports of problems with too few machines in some places and malfunctioning machines in others…it seems to have gone pretty smoothly. Regardless of your political bent, we should all be thankful for that.
|It wasn’t that way for everyone, as the video to the left shows. No matter how many times this voter pushes one button, another lights up. It’s pretty freaky if you ask me and more than a little troubling.
This video is from Pennsylvania, not Tennessee. While the problem here is more likely a calibration issue, it certainly doesn’t do much to make folks feel like their vote is secure.
The truth is, the last thing people want is to feel like something shady is going on. That’s the rationale for all kinds of laws that impact voting.
The issue with touch-screen voting is and always has been the lack of a verifiable paper trail. As someone who works with computers all day, and so many of us do these days, we’ve all experienced the “I just lost everything” problem at one time or another. Touchscreen voting machines are just computers. In the absence of a paper trail, we might never know when that happens with touchscreen machines when they catastrophically fail.
In 2006 we made an investment in these machines. It was a bad investment if you ask me. At the time it took Democratic support to get these machines. I get that. But this wasn’t a strictly partisan issue then and it isn’t one now. I think both parties agree that unverifiable elections are unacceptable regardless of who’s in charge.
Since 2006, the company that first made the machines, Diebold, has gotten out of the election business, and many states have moved back to paper ballots.
Considering all the challenges we have here in Shelby Co., the fear about a correct count shouldn’t be one of them. We need to join the two Tennessee counties that got it right in the first place and the many states and local election commissions nationwide that are making the change and adopt paper ballots.
It just makes good sense, and right now is the right time.
Our next County-wide election isn’t until May of 2014…the County Primary. That gives us 17 months to prepare.
This won’t be the only change at the Election Commission. Word on the street is that there’s a top to bottom internal review in the near future, not to mention the Election Review Committee that the County Commission empaneled (of which I am a member). Integrating the shift to paper ballots in the reform process is both an efficient and intelligent way to restore confidence in the process.
There’s a lot more that needs to be done at the Election Commission, but removing one of the key sticking points, the lack of a verifiable paper trail, is one way to begin restoring confidence in the institution tasked with executing our elections.
We should all push to adopt paper ballots now. Here’s how to contact the members of the Shelby County Election Commission:
With the August 2012 elections behind us, and my campaign completed, I’m finding myself wondering what to do with all this spare time that, just a week ago, was completely consumed in the final preparations for election day.This is common for all kinds of people who put all of themselves into something. When I worked in theater we called it “the hangover”…for a couple of reasons, but it also applies to newlyweds, the newly retired, and pretty much anything that represents a major life change.
Its easy to get caught up in the “the hangover”. The joy, or relief of a milestone can fade very quickly. The disappointment of a loss can be easily amplified. Both can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless.
The key to getting over “the hangover” is figuring out what to do…making a decision on what’s next and committing to it.
For some folks it takes a long time to figure out what it is you will decide to commit to. For others, its easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re committing when you’re really just kicking the can down the street. But if you want to make a difference…if you believe you CAN make a difference no matter how big or small, you find a way to get back up on the horse and ride.
In the short term, for me anyway, I’m working to restore some normalcy to a life that has been dominated by a campaign for 8 months. This means getting ready for another semester at U of M, catching up on some things that fell through the cracks, and spending more time with my family.
I’m also going to follow through with my oversight and investigation of wrong ballots at the Shelby County Election Commission. Still a lot of work to be done on that front. (A big thank you to Memphis City Councilmen Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland as well as the whole Council for honoring me with a resolution yesterday for working to expose the problem.)
There are some other things I’m looking at as well. Things that can make a difference not only here in Shelby County, but around the state.
I’ll save that for a later post, but for now I challenge you, dear reader, to think about ways you can make a positive difference: for your neighborhood, City, County and State.
What can you contribute, through your time and talents, to make things better?
Change takes commitment. How far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to do to make our state a better place?
Think about that tonight. Tomorrow I’ll offer some suggestions of things you can actually do to show that commitment.