Court Case Continues Over Voter Registration Issues In Shelby County

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The lawsuit involving the Tennessee Black Voters Project, Memphis NAACP and the Shelby County Election Commission was in Shelby County Chancery Court Wednesday.

The TN Black Voters Project and Memphis NAACP accuse the Shelby County Election Commission of intentionally not processing thousands of voter registration applications.  The groups claim that the Shelby County Election Commission violated a court order in regard to voting registration and incomplete forms.

Linda Phillips, Shelby County Election Commission Administrator believes thousands of voter registration applications were dumped on the commission right before the October 9 deadline to create chaos.  However, local attorneys say that’s far from the truth and they want to give individuals with incorrect applications a chance to vote. 

“It’s our understanding those 4-6 thousand individuals, whose applications have been set aside as deficient or incomplete for some reason,” said Alex Wharton, Attorney for Memphis NAACP.

Monday, Wharton and his counsel amended the lawsuit filed on behalf of Shelby County voters.

“They talked about registrations being dumped on them at the last minute but all of these registrations met the deadline,” said Pastor Earl Fisher, founder of Up the Vote 901.  “If it was a last minute or 11th hour type of issue I think that that burden will fall on them and not the people who were engaged in obtaining these registrations.”

Phillips says her team is processing every valid registration form, but many applications submitted were duplicates or incomplete.

“We looked at 18 of them and they clearly have been filled out by the same person.  There was a stack of 5 with the same name, same date of birth, same last four of the social security and five different addresses,” Phillips explained.

Phillips says thousands of rejected applications were submitted by convicted felons who have not had their voting rights restored.

“It is a State Law. There is a process, which begins with forms available through the court system, by which felons may have their voting rights restored, and we have given sessions on how to do this at public libraries, and in other places. The voting right restoration process is also outlined clearly on our website,” Phillips said.

Wharton and his counsel want the commission to notify these individuals about the discrepancies.  Phillips says her team is trying.

“We had one, it’s not a valid address, it’s not registering against any database. We finally called MLGW and there’s not utility service, there’s no address there so I can mail a notice to that alleged voter but they’re not going to get it,” Phillips said.

Wednesday’s hearing was continued until Thursday morning at 11 in Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins courtroom.

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