Nearly $6 million for voting machines up for approval at Shelby County Election Commission meeting
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A years-long battle still hangs in the balance.
The Shelby County Commission is once again poised to vote to approve millions of dollars for new voting machines on Monday, but disputes still abound.
“It’s an important decision because people have to have confidence when they vote,” Action News 5 Political Analyst Michael Nelson said.
But there’s no promise that an important decision will conclude on Monday. Once again, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution allocating nearly $6 million to the Shelby County Election Commission for new voting machines.
The debate has a contentious history. The Election Commission is wanting new electronic ballot marker machines by the August election. The majority of commissioners are pushing for paper ballots.
The Commission has denied funding before. The Election Commission responded in the form of a lawsuit.
“This has been a contentious process but our need for new equipment has morphed into the emergency range,” Shelby County Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips said.
“These are appointed people looking to step beyond legal authority,” Commissioner Eddie Jones said.
The resolution for funds goes in front of the full County Board of Commissioners Monday, but there’s no guarantee what will happen as the resolution passed out of committee with several commissioners abstaining from a vote.
But Action News 5 Political Analyst Michael Nelson said the clock is ticking on a decision.
“Something we know is the state is not going to allow us to use the same machines we’ve been using,” Nelson said. “Even though the Election Commission and County Commission have been butting heads over, this they’re going to have to come up with a solution.”
The Election Commission said the current voting machines are more than 15 years old and on the brink of potential major operating failures. One solution is a compromise between the commissions. Voters will be able to choose at their polling location if they want to vote via machine or on a paper ballot.
That compromise only goes into effect only if the money is approved.
“I don’t know if that’s the kind of compromise that makes things better,” Nelson said.
Monday’s meeting starts at 3 p.m. Commissioners urge the public to make their voices heard with their commissioners if they have an opinion on the subject.
The Shelby County Election Commission says it will drop its lawsuit if the money is approved.
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