When the first day of early voting in advance of the Nov. 6 election day had ended Wednesday, Shelby County election commissioner Norma Lester offered her verdict on how it went with a brief Facebook post. “Don’t know any other way to say it except the first day of Early Voting was absolute HELL!” she wrote. “Hoping for a better Second day.” A total of 11,445 Shelby County voters cast their ballots on the first day of the voting period that runs through Nov. 1 and takes in 27 polling places countywide. The total, which includes absentee ballots, is more than three times the 3,215 early voters at 20 sites on the opening day of early voting for the same election cycle in 2014 and more than double the 4,713 at 21 sites in 2010. The total early voting turnout was 84,711 four years ago and 109,232 in 2010.
But the heavy opening day is being tempered by glitches, allegations of voter suppression and at least two lawsuits.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis complained to state election officials, including Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Friday afternoon about a glitch in the layout of the ballot.
When voters make the text of the ballot larger on touchscreen voting machines, it moves the name of Democratic nominee for Governor Karl Dean off the page with the other contenders in the race for governor to the next page.
Shelby County Election Commission officials said Thursday they were aware of the problem.
“They haven’t done anything about it,” Cohen said. “They know it but they haven’t done anything about it.”