Friday, October 19, 2018

Election Administrator Addresses Ballot Issues

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 2:50 PM

click to enlarge vote.jpg
Early voters here have noticed a difference in the sample ballot put out before the election by the Shelby County Election Commission and the ballot they encounter when they step into a voting booth.

The choices for voting on three Memphis City Council-created referenda were “yes” and “no” on the sample ballot distributed to the public prior to early voting. But the choices on the actual voting machine are “for” and "against.” The change compounds the complexity of voting on the issues, some have said, as the referenda are, themselves, hard to comprehend.

  • Eric Gottlieb/Facebook

The change from the simple “yes” and “no” to “for” and “against” was made by State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, according to officials with the Shelby County Election Commission (SCEC).

Linda Phillips, SCEC administrator of elections, said the difference isn’t confusing to her, and making the change is on her to-do list but that she will change it “if it makes you feel better.”

Memphis Flyer: Why are (the sample ballot and actual ballot) different?
click to enlarge Phillips - SHELBYVOTE.COM
  • Phillips

Linda Phillips: Apparently, according to our attorneys, state law requires the ballot on machines to say "for" and "against.”

I have a note on my list of things to do to change the sample ballot. Frankly, I just haven’t had time.

MF: So, it was just an oversight that the sample ballot didn’t get changed?

LP: Yeah, basically.
MF: People are saying this is confusing. Can you understand where they’re coming from?

LP: Well, I think "for“ and "against” is pretty similar to "yes” and "no.” But the confusion may come in the text of the referendums. But, you know, I think most people understand that "for” is "yes” and "against“ is "no.”

MF: You’re saying it should be plain. There shouldn’t be any confusion to voters.

LP: Yeah, I think the "for" and "against,” “yes/no” question…I don’t find that confusing.

Now, I make no comment on the language of the ballot. It’s not my job to. … I didn’t write it. … It’s not anything the election commission has control of. We print it as it’s given to us.
MF: Even with this small difference between "for" and "against" and "yes" and "no,” people are criticizing it as another inconsistency in this election. What do you think about that?

LP: Well, I’m not seeing a huge inconsistency. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll go change the sample ballot. (Laughs.)

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