Report on election glitches casts doubt - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Report on election glitches casts doubt

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

By the end of election night Nov. 6, 2012, it appeared the embattled Shelby County Election Commission had bounced back from the fiasco of the county August 2012 primary.

Then more than 5,000 voters in Shelby County had complained of receiving the wrong ballots at the polls. But, the early results of a report on glitches occurring last November could cast even more doubts about the commission's competency.

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The philosophy behind the American voting process is supposed to be based on one sterling, yet simple, principal.

One man. One vote.

"There's integrity in the process that the voters have an opportunity to express their will," said Herman Morris, Memphis city attorney.

But, if you listen to embattled Shelby County Election Commission Administrator Richard Holden, conducting an election with a guarantee of trust and integrity in the process is apparently akin to some mystical rocket science or slopping your way through a bowl of linguini.

"It's all very complicated and trying to unravel the ball of spaghetti and point at one thing with a simple answer is unrealistic," Holden said in January.

But Morris, Assistant City Attorney Regina Newman and Election Commissioner George Monger are among those who don't buy into Holden's myriad of excuses for the election commission's voting day meltdowns that continue to plague their operation.

"It's starting to look like more and more like a cover up," Monger said. "We cannot put party politics over principals."
Just days before Holden's six-month probation period, incurred since last August, expires next week, a new flap has arisen over information contained in the analysis of a report in which more than 400 voters in just one precinct, voting in the November 2012 election, were given the wrong ballots.

"There are 37 city-county boundary precincts," Newman said. "The election commission had analyzed a total of 10 percent and I only had a report on one of them. In one of them there were 449 voters who got the wrong ballot. Either they were outside the city and got a county ballot or etcetera."

"We had every expectation, based on our communications with the individuals putting on the election, that they were on top of it," Morris added.

But, Monger insists getting on top of the of the election commission's problems is proving to be even more difficult for the commissioners themselves. Monger alleges Holden never gave members a copy of the analysis report which contained these early initial findings concerning wrong ballots.

He says it was Newman who shared the report information with Monger after she asked a commission staffer to give her a copy at Monday's commission meeting. Monger alleges e-mails to Holden about the report have gone unanswered.

"Whether it's the proper request for new contracts, whether it's budgetary concerns, if you don't have the full information to convey to the public trust in the commission, if you don't have it yourself as a city commissioner," Monger said.

"I have made the recommendation before and I'll make it right now," Newman said. "They need a professional election administrator, a non-partisan professional election administrator.

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