Absentee ballot backup causes issues for many Shelby County voters

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Early voting is underway in Shelby County and, while officials are taking extra precautions to protect in-person voters, some say the absentee ballots haven’t gone as well.

“I put a question on social media asking people if they have received their ballots, and I would say almost 100 people responded with some type of issue with the receipt of their ballot,” County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said.

Sawyer told Elections Administrator Linda Phillips during a meeting Wednesday that her parents requested absentee ballots three weeks ago.

She said only her mother received confirmation, and neither parent received an absentee ballot.

Phillips said anyone who had a ballot application before July 10 should get their ballot this week. If they don’t, then it’s most likely a postal issue.
“There were some situations that caused delays in sending ballots. Some out of our control and some a pick-your-poison kinda thing,” she said.

She said at one point, they believed part of the ballot might change. Her team didn’t want to send ballots out too early, causing even more issues.  .

“It’s a nightmare,” she said. “If you absolutely want to make sure that your vote counts I recommend that you mask up and go to an early voting site.”

The Shelby County Election Commission is processing more than 15,000 applications for absentee ballots in this election, at least 15 times the normal amount, according to the office.

Phillips said they are running two eight-hour shifts per day to process applications, which is a process of more than a dozen steps. She asked people to only send in one application, and remember to sign.

Normally, the election commission processes 800-1,000 absentee ballot applications.

To request an absentee ballot, voters can download and print one from shelbyvote.com, stop by one of the two offices to pick one up, or call 222-1200.

People who download them need to sign them and mail them back in or sign them, scan and email them to absenteevoting@shelbyccountytn.gov.

The signed applications must be received in the office by 4:30 on July 30.

A voter can check to see if their ballot has been processed by visiting this website:  https://tnmap.tngove/voterlookup  

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