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Government red tape, not coronavirus, is hampering effort for new voting machines in Shelby County

Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on new voting machines for Shelby County amid COVID-19 concerns.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The coronavirus outbreak has brought normal life to a standstill. But the work of local government must still on – at least in theory.

One issue waiting to be resolved is whether Shelby County residents will be using new voting machines this year. The goal had been to have new machines in time for the presidential election in November. The only issue should have been which machines to buy. But that goal is now pretty much out the window.

Because of social distancing, the five-member county election commission met this week through a conference call. The Daily Memphian reported that the call was hampered by numerous glitches and dropped calls. But that wasn’t the only problem. Election commissioners seem to be in a standoff with the county purchasing department over the procedure for selecting a new voting machine vendor. The disagreement is too convoluted to get into now, but let’s just say government bureaucracy remains in full effect – pandemic or no pandemic.

At some point, God willing, we will get past the coronavirus crisis. Hopefully with as few lives lost as possible. When we do, there will be plenty of unfinished business in government and politics. New and improved voting machines are at the top of that list. But it’s fairly obvious that those machines won’t arrive anytime soon. Not because of the coronavirus – but because of chronic government red tape. And that’s my point of view.

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