Nothing will get an elected official angrier than when you talk about voting and voting machines.
Exhibit A: the Shelby County Diebold Voting Machines, or as Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland calls them, the ‘dee-bold’ machines.
He wishes they machines would just go away. Just head for that big election in the sky just up and ‘dee.’
“I don’t have any confidence in that ‘dee-bold’ machine,” Roland told other commissioners, “And I think the public don’t have any confidence. And I think because of the machines that might be why we have a lack of participation in Shelby County in elections. I think that’s one thing we can change.”
This whole thing just popped up in a meeting where Elections Administrator Linda Phillips wanted commissioners to give the elections commission $175,000 to buy something else.
“We need the devices that create the voter access card to be used with our current voting machines,” she says.
Terry Roland has no love for the current Diebold, or ‘dee-bold,’ machines.
Call them what you want, he calls them trash.
He still claims some people who were voting for him in the April primary had their votes go to somebody else.
“I’d rather see us spend money buying new voting machines than I would patching these things up. I don’t have any confidence in them at all,” says Roland.
The Diebold election machine has been the criticized for a variety of reasons. The late Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham, who lost an election for Memphis City Mayor, claimed somebody had hacked into the machines. His rationale was if all the people who said they voted for him actually did vote for him, he would have won.
Commissioner Mark Billingsley says he’s heard the same song for years.
“I have been on this commission for 5 years,” he said, “and this has come up before.”
Phillips says the whole issue is really in the hands of commissioners. The Elections Board is asking for between $9 and $11-million to purchase new voting machines.
“They are getting old,” Phillips says, “getting near the end of their life.”
The machines were purchased in 2005.
Phillips says if the Elections Commission gets the money, new voting machines could be used as early as the 2020 Presidential election.