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.
Using the software package of the Voter Activation Network (VAN), which, says Ross, continually updates voter data for each of the 50 states, Ross was able to access the master voter file from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, match it up with the official state redistricting maps, and with the Shelby County Election Commission’s Participating Voter List.
He found the SCEC list to be out of sync — with the result that 857 Shelby Countians have already voted in the wrong House race alone, and with wrong ballots being assigned in congressional races, state Senate races, and on the muinicipal-school referendum.
Ross said he had used only those cases in which voters had not changed their address since the census and redistricting in order to make comparisons. He said he and others would be scheduling a press conference on Monday to publicize the results of his survey.