There’s no question about it. If you were waiting for the returns in the August primaries and the Shelby County general election, you waited, and waited, and waited. Guess what? You might have to wait again.
The old voting machines and the technology that goes with them can be compared to an elderly man trying to eat soup at a restaurant.
It’s going to take a while, and it’s not going to look pretty, but it will eventually get done.
Shelby County was one of only four counties in the state that did not have any election returns tabulated more than three hours after the polls closed.
Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips isn’t pulling any punches when asked if she expects problems and delays with the early voting in November.
“I do,” she says. “The system isn’t getting any younger, so we’re going to have to start much earlier with early voting to get it tabulated.”
They started counting early votes around 7:00 p.m. in August. But slow computers, and the fact that two election poll workers had left critical voting cards at polling places resulted in late, and I mean late, returns.
It might be a little quicker in November’s general election Linda Phillips says. A little quicker.
“The ballot is shorter,” she says, “… so that helps.”
Election Commission Board Members haven’t officially decided where the polls will be located for early voting. That was a big issue for the primaries.
Phillips is looking at changing one polling place in Frayser, and one in Lakeland.
“I don’t think the commission will make any changes in early voting,” she says, “… although there are two locations I’d like to keep them in the same area but find things that are easier to get to.”
Phillips is not expecting any troubles if she decides to move the polls saying, “I mean, I’m not taking any locations away. I’m moving them to places more suitable and convenient.”
New machines are what they need she says.
And there is a cost to voting with new up-to-date machines.
Probably between $9-million and $12-million, to be paid over three years.
There won’t be any new machines for the November 6 election.