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:
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)