Issues with polls could jeopardize results of midterm elections in Mid-South, congressman says

Congressman Steve Cohen said what happened when he went to vote Friday could jeopardize the results of the election.

The name of the Democratic candidate for governor was hard to find on the ballot.

FOX13 spoke with The Shelby County Election Commission.

They said there was an issue with the large text ballot, but not the regular ballot.

Cohen said when he used the large text ballot to vote Friday, everything was out of order.

“When I came up to the governor’s race, there was Bill Lee the Republican candidate first as law should be and then a bunch of independents and you had to go to the bottom,” Cohen said. “I was a little confounded because Karl Dean, the Democratic candidate, wasn’t there.”

Cohen said he clicked on the next page and noticed more independents -- and then Karl Dean’s name.

“If the election results are extremely close, Karl Dean will and should challenge this election for not giving him the opportunity to appear as state law says he should second underneath.”

Tennessee election laws require the two major parties be listed first.

The Shelby County Election Commission said they couldn’t get everything into two columns because of the extremely high number of independents.

They’re making changes after learning about the problem.

“When voters selected the large text option, unfortunately the way our very old machines work, it listed the first column and then it went to the second column which left Karl Dean in the middle which is obviously not appropriate,” said SCEC employee Linda Phillips.

Phillips said starting Saturday, all the poll workers will be instructed to tell voters not to use the large text and they’ll have signs on each machine.

“I think it was a mistake and it would bother me greatly if it was intentional but being a mistake bothers me almost just as much,” said Cohen.

Phillips said it was not intentional.

Although the election commission is making changes, they said If someone hits the large screen as an option, there’s not a lot they can do because it’s coded.

Each voting machine will also have magnifying glasses.

FOX13 reached out to Dean’s son. They released this statement:

We are very disappointed in how this is being handled. Voters should be able to know when they walk into their polling location who is on that ballot and in what order. We are asking the state Election Commission and the Shelby County Election Commission to have this issue fixed by the time polls open tomorrow morning.