The much-beleaguered Shelby County Election Commission is about to get another big shock, which will also further shake the already weakened confidence of Shelby County voters in the accuracy of the August 2 election process. If the calculations of Steve Ross are correct, no fewer than 1,019 Shelby County voters have been presented with erroneous ballots so far in the early-voting process. Ross, the Democratic nominee for a District 1 County Commission seat, has been a determined all-purpose political activist for years (somewhere between a gadfly and an ombudsman), and being a candidate for office hasn’t halted his efforts. If anything it’s whetted them.
Along with fellow Democratic activist Steve Steffens, Ross began bird-dogging the early-voting process even before it started, in effect prophesying adverse results from the Election Commission’s late start in assigning post-census precincts for this year’s election dates — a process that was complicated further by the Commission’s decision to consolidate the number of precincts, eliminating 17 of them.
After the first day of early voting, it was discovered that some 568 households in a newly annexed portion of Collierville had not been included in making out the ballot for what , in each of Shelby County’s six incorporated suburbs this year, is inarguably the most compelling issue — a referendum on whether to create a municipal school system. In addition, several residents of Bartlett were apparently given the wrong ballot, and such confusion occurred even in Memphis, as was demonstrated in the case of David Holt, a resident of House District 93who was given a District 98 ballot. Holt finally got the right ballot, but only after making a serious fuss and over the initial reluctance of poll workers to review his case.