MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris likes to get people talking.
So when the County Commission, the Election Commission, and the Mayor got inside, they did a lot of talking.
Mayor Harris can say don’t give the Election Commission any money, but County Commission members make the final decision.
One of them, Tami Sawyer, told elections folks, “There is still a belief and a concern that we are not seeing free and fair elections in Shelby County.”
What this turned into was a discussion of equipment, versus management.
Elections Administrator Linda Phillips helped things move when she said she didn’t need the $5-million Mayor Harris wanted to hold.
She told commissioners, “If you guys can come up with $2.5-million in 2019, we can go ahead and replace the system.”
New voting machines is what she says she needs, and just about every member of the Shelby County Commission agreed with her.
Not many people rely on a 15-year-old computer for important events.
The voting machines are 15-years-old.
Phillips thinks the price for new machines, originally $12-million, might end up being $9-million instead.
They could be here for the 2020 Presidential election.
But there are still issues; slow voting returns, unpredictable poll locations, active support of the new voter registration law.
Problems are nothing new. In fact, Shelby County Commission Chairman Van Turner sued elections people nine years ago.
He told Mayor Harris, “We are keenly aware of issues that have transpired over there at the election commission.”
A committee will meet to figure out how to deal with the problems, including those lawsuits.
“I am so tired of being sued,” Mayor Harris told reporters following the meeting. “Our election commission gets sued. When our election commission gets sued, and they get sued all the time, the county picks up the legal tab.”