PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS: Results delayed by hours in Shelby County election

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Problems at the polls. If you voted in Thursday’s election in Shelby County, you know it took hours to get the results.

The Shelby County Election Commission said glitches delayed the release of vote totals until about 2 a.m. Friday.

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“The biggest issue, of course, is the machines are old. They are at the end of their lifespan,” Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips said.

Phillips said some of the machines that voters in Shelby County have used for years are falling apart.

“Poll workers sometimes have trouble setting them up,” she said. “They’re not really stable on their legs. Sometimes the legs detach.”

Phillips said the old equipment, along with a lengthy ballot and an influx of voters late in the day, is why there was a delay in getting Thursday’s election results out to the public.

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“We had the early vote prepped and ready to go. We could have released it at 7:01,” she said. “The big issue is about 5:30 at some locations enormous amounts of people showed up to vote.”

At that point, Phillips said it was too late in the day to bring additional machines to the polls.

She said the last voter submitted their ballot at 8:45 p.m.

“State law prohibits me from releasing any results at all until the last voter has finished voting,” Phillips said.

Phillips said there were also issues with the system they use to report the results online, further delaying the public release.

Ahead of the November elections, Shelby County commissioners have approved funding to buy new voting machines and other equipment.

FOX13 got a firsthand look at how the new voting machines will operate.

Phillips said the rest of the 1,100 new machines and 220 scanners are expected to arrive starting next week.

“We’ve got nine semis full of stuff coming next week, and then we have eight or nine coming a week later,” she said.

Phillips said she is hopeful the new equipment will alleviate any headaches in future elections.

She said the new machines are similar to what voters are used to. The main difference is the new machines will leave a paper trail that can be double-checked.