MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – This year is an election year. So attention will be paid to those Shelby County voting machines.
The old County Commission and former Mayor Mark Luttrell realized the commission needed new voting machines.
They were going to give the commission $5-million.
Newly elected County Mayor Lee Harris says not so fast.
There are a few things Mayor Harris wants the Shelby County Election Commission to fix.
One of them is the hours-long wait until voting results are made public.
Shelby County is often one of the last counties in the state to report returns.
“I lived in Nashville,” Mayor Harris says. “I served in the State Senate in Nashville for four years. It’s very different there, because election results come right after elections close. Here it is just a complete cluster. Once they have an election here, getting the results back, it’s a complete cluster.”
That’s one reason he doesn’t want to give them $5-million.
Remember the controversy over early voting last year, wanting to open just one poll in East Memphis, and none in the urban areas of the city?
They came up with a compromise, but Mayor Harris wants it never to happen again.
“We can’t have voting in the urban core start later than voting in other places around the community,” he says. “It’s common sense. It’s something a lot of the citizens here talked to me about. I can’t be a part of letting that kind of thing continue.”
Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says the mayor gets to set a budget, but it will have consequences.
“If we don’t get funding next fiscal year,” she says, “… then we will be voting on our existing machines in the 2020 presidential election.”
Election Commission officials will meet with County Commissioners Wednesday.