Don’t look for new voting machines for the October 2019 Memphis elections. Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says the special election in state Senate District 32 has pushed back plans for the move to new machines with a paper audit trail. “I do not believe it would be possible to have them in place and do the training and all of the work necessary to have them used in the October elections,” Phillips said Thursday on The Daily Memphian Politics podcast. Early voting was to open Friday in the special primary election for the state Senate seat Republican Mark Norris gave up to become a federal judge. The winners of the primaries advance to a March 12 special general election. The Shelby County Election Commission still plans to issue a request for proposal, or RFP, soon that sets standards for what a new voting system must have for potential vendors to submit bids. The RFP must be cleared by county attorneys and purchasing officials.
The requirements include a paper audit trail – a hard copy of the choices a voter makes that is separate from the votes tabulated directly from the voting machines.
“Because Shelby County has so many precincts and so many ballot styles, we are looking at what is known as a ballot locking system,” Phillips said. “The voter will actually look at a touch screen that is very similar to what they experience now. They will make their selections and it forces them to look at all of the races. And then when they are done, a paper trail will print out. They can confirm that that’s how they voted and then … it’s counted by the election commission.”