Shelby Co. Election Commission sees major increase in absentee ballots

Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Republican primary has become a historic one here in Tennessee.

The big unknown in this election is the large number of absentee ballots cast this year, and how they could affect when we get results.

At Shelby County Election Commission headquarters, a bipartisan group of workers are running the absentee ballots through four brand new scanners. Election officials say more than 16,000 voters filled out absentee ballots. Normally, in a primary, they get around 1,000. Extra workers were hired to validate them.

There were no issues Thursday. But Linda Phillips says if absentee ballots requested because of COVID-19 concerns were allowed in this fall's Presidential election, they would be overwhelmed.

“We probably would have to move to a different facility. You can see my absentee ballot teams are taking up half our warehouse right now. If we had to do 160,000 in the presidential, we’d have to move to FedEx orum or the Agricenter,” said Linda Phillips, Shelby County Elections Administrator.

The Tennessee Supreme Court sided with the state this week, ruling absentee ballots will not be provided for COVID-19 reasons in November. But these August absentee ballot will still count.

Phillips says the results shouldn’t take very long. When the last voter leaves the polls the absentee ballot count will be released.

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