Election commission blames vote count delays on old machines

Election commission blames vote count delays on old machines
Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 2:08 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2018 at 5:18 AM CDT
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SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - What went wrong and what went right on Election Night?

That was the topic of discussion during Monday's packed Shelby County Election Commission meeting.

"We don't usually have this many to attend," said Election Commission Chairperson Robert Meyers about the turnout.

It was a contentious election cycle with court battles and late returns, and commissioners wanted to figure out what they can do better.

One line on the agenda for election commissioners questioned why absentee results came in after 8 p.m. on Election Night.

Linda Phillips, Administrator of Elections, said she'd rather be right than fast, but the next election she's going to try to do both.

"It was just the first time in my career we used an 18-inch ballot, I didn't realize how much longer it took to scan," Phillips said.

Phillips said the very long absentee ballot listing all the primary and general election candidates caused the slow returns on election night.

She also blames the old voting machines, which are at least 10 years old and in desperate need of replacement

"There is newer technology that is a lot faster," Phillips said. "The machines themselves like I said are getting a little cranky."

Phillips hopes to get funds approved for new voting machines by Shelby County commissioners by early next year.

However, that won't help in the November general election where the turnout is expected to nearly double from August's election.

"I do anticipate more voters in November because it's not a primary election, I think people tend to make up their minds earlier," Phillips said.

The commission decided to table discussing where those early voting sites will be in the general election.

There was preliminary discussion on early voting sites after last month's battle over early voting locations wound up in court.

Commissioners wanted to make sure they gave enough notice to the public before choosing the locations.

Early voting locations will be decided at their next meeting on Sept. 18.

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