Memphis pastors concerned about voter confusion, frustration ahead of elections

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of Memphis pastors said they are concerned about voter confusion and frustration in the upcoming primary and general elections in Shelby County.

Early voting for the May 3 primaries begins in less than two weeks.

Several pastors said it’s the first week of early voting that raises the most concern because there are only a few places to vote.

When early voting begins in Shelby County Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and many other predominantly black congregations are used as polling places.

Reverend Jason Turner pastors Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.

“We are concerned about access to the various voting precincts particularly the first few days of voting is of grave concern,” Turner said.

Turner’s church is no stranger to a lot of traffic during the early voting period.

Traffic will be even greater with early voting beginning on holy week.

“As we reflect on the suffering of Christ we think about the right to vote,” Turner said.

Turner is also president of the Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis, which is a collaborative of Black Clergy and their congregations who have a genuine interest in reducing poverty in Memphis.

Turner says the first two days of early voting will also be a burden for many.

“There are minimal sites. If you want to vote on April 13 and 14 you have to go downtown to the election commission. Pay to park to cast your vote,” Turner said.

Only six of the early voting places will be open on the first week of early voting.

However, the Shelby County Election Commission on Poplar is the only place people can vote on the first two days of early voting in the first week.

Linda Phillips is the Administrator of Elections.

“The vast majority of our voters between 60% and 70% vote early,” Phillips said.

Phillips said that Each time voting dates intersect Holy Week, it’s challenging to recruit poll workers, especially in the South.

Phillips told FOX13 with help from organizations like the Shelby County Voter Alliance which are helping to bring greater awareness about early voting locations, dates and Election Day polling place changes.

“We are doing a lot of PSA’s. We are doing a lot of Social media our level best to inform voters about the changes,” Phillips said.

For a full list of early voting locations, visit their website.