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Shelby County Elections Administrator weighs in on debate over voting by mail

Currently, the Tennessee Attorney General said fear of coronavirus is NOT a legitimate reason for voting absentee.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It will take a Judge to decide whether fear of Coronavirus can be used as a reason to vote absentee mail.

It is controversial. President Trump says voting by mail makes fraud easier. Studies done show no indication of that.

Linda Phillips, the Shelby County Elections Administrator, says there are certain qualifications you need to meet in order to vote absentee.

“You need to be over 60,” she says. “Or if you’re under age 60, you need to have a reason. Either you need to be out of town, if you’re a college student away at college, if you’re a truck driver with a valid CDL, if you are ill, or caring for someone who is.”

As is typical in Tennessee, lawsuits have been filed to expand the list of reasons.

Phillips says, “The Tennessee Attorney General said fear of coronavirus is NOT a legitimate reason for voting absentee. Now I will say there have been three lawsuits filed over that issue. One in Federal Court, two in Davidson Chancery Court.”

The current voting equipment could not count any large numbers of absentee votes. But new machines are on the way.

Phillips says, “The Mayor has signed the intent to purchase letter. Now, I can start doing some serious planning.”

She is hoping the machines will be here by the August elections, but thinks the 1,100 new machines will be in place for the November Presidential election.

Meanwhile, Phillips is watching the legal battle over absentee voting regulations.

“I don’t know if Judge will change it,” she says, “... and make the list of reasons larger. But it is certainly not in the purview of the Shelby County Election Commission to change it.”

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