Wrong information put into a computer, people sent to the wrong places to vote, dead people voting. Then there were the primaries of last August- Shelby County elections folks outdid themselves in that one. So give a Memphis welcome to the Election Integrity Task Force. Needed? Oh yeah, says Assistant City Attorney Regina Newman. “There were five thousand people who got the wrong ballots in August, so this task force does have something to do with that. The city also has a referendum on the ballot. We have an issue on this ballot.”
There are two big votes for Memphis. Voters will decide whether to add a penny gas tax with the money going to public transportation. They will also decide whether to raise the sales tax with money going for education. “We’ve got eight or nine lawyers available,” Newman says, “...to field calls from voters if they have any issues with regard to voting, or wrong ballots, or intimidation, or not being able to vote with a Memphis City Photo ID Library Card.”
The U.S. Justice Department will be watching, and so will the NAACP. The whole thing boils down to making sure the voter feels secure that his or her vote will count. “We want to make sure that elections officials don’t make mistakes,” Newman says. “We’ll try to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. Nothing is perfect, but five thousand people getting the wrong ballot is more than not perfect.”
Meanwhile, Shelby County Elections Supervisor Richard Holden says his folks feel confident that everything will work out. “We’re ready,” Holden says. “We’ve got some great people, twelve hundred citizens that were trained to be election officials. They’re ready to conduct an election. We’re ready to go.”
If you have troubles and need to contact the Election Integrity Task Force, the phone number is (901) 636-6500.