Dozens in Bartlett unable to vote in city's election (TN)
Memphis Commercial Appeal. November 4, 2008. By Clay Bailey
Scores of Bartlett voters were unable to vote in the city’s election early today when the municipal ballot did not load onto the voting machines.
Later, hundreds more were required to cast their votes by paper ballots until the problem was corrected around mid-morning. There were no specifics on how many were affected, but some candidates said they heard more than 100 did not vote at the Ellendale Elementary precinct, while about 300 more used paper ballots. Another 20 or so did not get the ballot at Bartlett Elementary during the opening minutes.
Election Commission officials said part of the problem was poll workers not putting the proper code in for the Bartlett ballot in precincts, such as Bartlett Elementary, where residents and non-residents are registered. In the case of Ellendale Elementary, where all of the voters are Bartlett residents, candidates said they understood a computer glitch caused the Bartlett ballot not to load for the first couple of hours the polls were open.
Other locations, such as Bartlett High and Elmore Park Middle School reported no problems with their ballots.
Myra Stiles, the Election Commission chairman, said as long as voters let the poll workers know of the problem before casting their ballots, the workers tried to address the problem.
John Barzano, a challenger for Bartlett Alderman Position 6, noticed the problem shortly after the polls opened.
“We had several people say they would like to have voted for us, but there was no Bartlett ballot,” Barzano said, adding that there were “hundreds of people, who didn’t get the opportunity to vote in the Bartlett election during the first hour or so.”
The main problem seemed to be at Bartlett-4, Ellendale Elementary, where the machines may have not been programmed properly to show the ballot. Poll workers referred all questions to the Election Commission, and by noon, everyone seemed to be using the machines.
Sheila Zacher voted at the elementary school about 10:30 a.m. without incident, but had talked to someone who witnessed the early problems.
“Prior to me, the Bartlett issues – judges and aldermen – didn’t show up on the computer,” Zacher said. “(Voters) were allowed to vote on the computer on everything else. They were given paper ballots to vote in the Bartlett election.”
Dan Brown, who is running against incumbent municipal judge George McCrary, said it is difficult to judge the impact of the glitch.
“I don’t want to be overly critical of the Election Commission,” Brown said, “but it does seem like they ped the ball a little bit. It doesn’t instill a lot of confidence for the candidates or the voters when that happens.”