MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The rock lyrics from a 1970’s song seem to fit in Shelby County these days. “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign” is the first thing you might think of when traveling through Millington or Lakeland, or Arlington, and certainly when driving through Collierville, Bartlett, and Germantown. There are signs on front lawns for the upcoming suburban school votes.
Shelby County Commissioners filed a lawsuit saying that the whole election should be stopped because, among other things, it’s unconstitutional. Lawyers from the cities and towns say Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays should throw out the county lawsuit because they approved it illegally.
Meanwhile, early voting starts Friday, and Shelby County Elections Supervisor Richard Holden says they’re still moving along. “If the ruling were issued where we just didn’t tabulate the results, that’s fine. We’d do that and nobody would ever know what the results were," Holden says. "If the ruling were we had to take the question off the ballot, it’s really not possible at this point.”
There ought to be a slogan for elections in Memphis and Shelby County. “Exercise Your Right As A Citizen! VOTE! Leave It to Us to Complicate Things.”
The issue is already complicated, even before Thursday’s court hearing. “We build the ballot by June 18th,” Holden says. “That’s forty five days before the election. We’ve sent out military and absentee ballots already, and some of those ballots have already been returned.”
Here are the options. Judge Mays could decide not to change a thing, or hold the election but not count the votes, or stop everything right now. The elections commission doesn’t have the luxury of waiting. When early voting starts on Friday, the process is moving, thanks to a lot of your money. Although not as much as they’ve used before. “It’s going to cost us less than a million dollars to run this election,” Holden says. “We’ve been driving the costs down. We used to run these elections for about one million dollars…a million and a half.”
Voters must have proper identification when going to the polling places. The identification must be from the state or the federal government. Memphis Library Cards which now have photographs of the card holder will not be allowed. “If a voter goes to the polls and doesn’t have a federal or state issued photo identification card,” Holden says, “they will be allowed to cast a paper provisional ballot. They will then have two days after the election to come back to one of our offices with the correct photo ID. If they do, their vote will be counted. If they don’t, we will inform them by letter as to the reason why we didn’t count their vote.”
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says the city will appeal the decision by the state elections commission that prohibits Memphis Library Cards to be used as voter identification.