Voting Problems Cast Doubt on the Process…Again

Check your ballot, Holden's Election Commission is at it again
Before I begin, I want to say there’s no question that elections in Shelby County are difficult. Lots of moving parts, with lawsuits, annexations, and all sorts of other issues.

That caveat out of the way, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we the citizens of Shelby County should be ok with consistent and persistent failures from the administration of the Election Commission. This is one area where failure truly is not an option.

But failure is what we’ve been getting and it reared its ugly head again yesterday on revelations in Bartlett, Collierville, and Millington some voters were not getting the opportunity to vote on their Municipal schools issues due to one of many mistakes from the Election Commission Administration.

This is NOT about whether you support the municipal schools referenda or not. It is about the sanctity and accuracy of the ballot. When the agency charged with administering elections can’t even get it right, it damages confidence in the process all the way around.

I’ve been writing about and watching the Administration of the Election Commission on this and other issues for a little over a month. In that time there have been multiple issues that have popped up creating uncertainty and confusion for voters and people dedicated to helping inform the electorate. Here are a few of them:

  • In June, just a month before the start of Early Voting, the Administration reported they had not completed updating the voter file to reflect new districts in Federal, State and Local races, even though that information was available to them in January
  • At that June meeting, the Administration reported that they did not know when the new district information would be complete, as they had not even started. They claimed the lack of resolution on County Commission redistricting was to blame even though those elections with new districts will not happen until 2014.
  • In addition to the lack of current information, the Administration offered a “hurry up” resolution that had not been seen until that meeting recommending consolidation or change of voting location for 17 precincts. One of the Bartlett precincts in question was consolidated at this meeting.
  • These issues are troubling, but once again, the response from Administrator Holden is perhaps the most troubling of all.

    “There’s issues in every election,” said Shelby County Election Administrator Richard Holden. (Source)

    Seriously? Thats confidence building.

    But this quote is perhaps even more troubling:

    “There are always issues the first day. We have 13 days to get everything straightened out before the Aug. 2 election.” – Election Commission chairman Robert Meyers (Source) CA Link

    Talk about the wrong message! No you don’t have 13 days to “get it straightened out”. It never should have been wrong in the first place.

    But this little snippet at the end of the CA article is perhaps the most telling:

    “Today is Election Day and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.” said the recorded message on the commission’s main phone number.

    That’s incorrect. Early voting runs from 10am to 7pm M-F and 10am to 4pm on Saturday at satellite locations according to the Word Document the Election Commission provides with Early Voting information.

    They can’t even get their voicemail message right.

    We need to ask ourselves why it is ok to have consistent problems with our elections?

    We need to ask why its ok to allow an administrator to remain in their job when they admit they regularly fail to resolve issues before the election.

    There will be mistakes sometimes, and humans make errors, but this will be the second August election in a row that features foibles from the Elections Administrator. Is that acceptable?

    See, other places don’t have this problem. Other places have efficient and effective election operations, largely free of the errors. We have, for whatever reason, come to accept and expect errors here in Shelby Co.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Tomorrow the Election Commission meets at 4:30 pm, 980 Nixon Rd. for their monthly meeting. The voting public deserves real answers about why these issues are allowed to persist.

    This isn’t a partisan issue, or a personal crusade against Richard Holden. However, with nearly four years under his belt as the administrator of the Shelby County Election Commission, these problems should have been resolved by now. That they’re not says something about his leadership, and his ability to administer elections.

    We deserve answers instead of excuses.

    We deserve elections we can have confidence in.

    So far, we haven’t gotten either.

    New Reports on Ballot Problems

    School Vote Ballot Glitch Frustrates Voters
    Several issues plague early Shelby County voters
    Voting Issues Reported When School Vote Question Doesn’t Appear
    Residents in Collierville annex asked to wait on early school vote
    Problems Arise as Suburban Voters Cast Ballots for Schools
    No smooth sailing yet for suburban voters (Commercial Appeal Link)

    3 thoughts

    1. Well, the SCEC has screwed up again. our friend who lives on Homer, on which map the State Legislature shows lives in District 93? The SCEC precinct locator AND his ballot showed him in 98. He canceled the vote so he can vote again, but this is more of the same INCOMPETENCE at the SCEC for the last 3 years.

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