The County Commission’s failure to develop its redistricting plan, the loss of critical local precinct-change data by the state, the massive complexities of redistricting overall, and a new staff without redistricting experience contributed to unprecedented local problems in the Aug. 2 elections, Shelby County’s chief election official reported Wednesday night. The County Commission’s redistricting plan was legally due last Dec. 31, but was never finalized. The Shelby Election Commission decided on June 14 that it “must proceed at a rapid pace to implement the redistricting at all levels” based on no county commission plan, but the next day a court ruling approved a plan — and that ruling was promptly appealed. That was only a month before the start of early voting. “I believed we could not act until the county commission enacted a redistricting plan,” Shelby Elections Administrator Richard Holden wrote. “Had they acted in compliance with state law, we would have implemented the plan we developed after the March election certification and the results would have been dramatically different.”
And despite preparations that started two years ago and the fact that “the potential for problems was well known throughout the state,” Shelby election officials did not become aware that voters were being issued incorrect ballots for their districts until early voting began last month, Holden said in a 4½-page letter e-mailed to State Election Coordinator Mark Goins Wednesday night.
“I was informed during early voting there were precinct and district problems. We immediately developed a plan, assigned personnel with tools to address the situation and dispatched the tools and personnel to the polling sites. We worked around the clock with state assistance to assure every voter received the correct ballot for their address,” Holden wrote.