By Bev Harris, Founder of BlackBoxVoting.org
Shelby County is currently enduring yet another botched election -- perhaps the worst one yet. Under Election Administrator Richard Holden's misleadership, this time thousands of voters are being disenfranchised by giving them the wrong ballot, a result of administrative foot-dragging on redistricting-related database updates.
Based on tips I have been receiving from several US locations, precinct boundary changes caused by redistricting will be bollixed in multiple jurisdictions across the USA in November. Some -- like Shelby County -- will be of strategic importance.
ENTER THE LATEST SHELBY COUNTY SNAFU
Administrator Richard Holden gummed up the redistricting works, which was belatedly finalized. Database and mapping updates needed to be expedited to get final changes safely into databases and poll lists in time for the August election. By expediting, I mean Holden needed to make certain this was well under way by March, and completed by May.
Holden's molasses-like management has put at least 6,000 voters at immediate risk for disenfranchisement. About 3,000 of these are already toast, having participated in Early Voting in the August election, where they were given the wrong ballot. Local campaigns and election consultants have been tracking this carefully.
As of this writing, 3,000 voters' rights can still be salvaged, with prompt action, because Election Day voting will not take place until next week. About half of all votes in Shelby County are typically cast on Election Day at the polls.
Shelby County needs to provide an option for all voters to cast legitimate votes on the right ballot on Election Day next week.
Candidates are also being treated unfairly. Many campaigns still don't have wards or precincts. School board candidates are still asking for information and can't identify their own voters for campaigning.
GOTTA BE REPLACED
And as I've said several times now, Holden needs to be replaced, and quickly. By my book, he is one of the worst election administrators in the nation.
It will take several weeks for a replacement to get up to speed in time for the November election. If Holden isn't replaced within the next two weeks, he's going to find that he himself is the story in Shelby County.
And after he is replaced, we'll need to sit on a Holden watch, to see where he turns up next. Election admins who are run out of town usually end up running an even bigger jurisdiction; King County's controversial Dean Logan now runs Los Angeles County elections; Cuyahoga County's Michael Vu now runs San Diego; San Bernardino County's Michael Trout now is Elections Director for the state of Oregon, and San Bernardino's other stinker, Scott Konopasek, ended up in Salt Lake County.
Sometimes, like convicted felon John Elder, head of ballot printing for Diebold, these election guys can't land another position. In that case, they become election consultants (like Riverside County's Mischelle Townsend, and Florida's Paul Craft).
One really has to wonder what topic they are consulting on.
HERE'S HOW REDISTRICTING MISMANAGEMENT ENDS UP DISENFRANCHISING VOTERS:
- Redistricting decisions, some bizarre, discriminatory, or overly complicated, are haggled over. For some locations, final decisions aren't made until the last minute, as one political party proposes new boundaries deemed unfair to the other; some fight it out in court; others hit resistance from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
And by bizarre, I mean this: Sometimes you see elaborate proposals for districts that snake around voters in tortured paths, or even finger out in all four directions at once. Sometimes, as in Osceola County (FL), you even get districts carved into polka dots. It's all very odd, and sometimes illegal.
- With these changed districts, thousands of voters' precincts change, as does their polling place. Two things must happen well before any election takes place.
(1) Voters need to be notified of their changed precinct and polling place
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT:
(2) The voter registration database must be updated, along with street mapping and pollbooks, to make sure every voter is put into the adjusted precinct.
Each district has a different ballot. If you live in District 9, you can't vote on District 8 representatives, and vice versa. Therefore, if voters are not correctly programmed into the newly redistricted system, their ballot will offer the wrong ballot choices, giving candidates ineligible votes and failing to allow the voter to choose the correct candidate of his choice.
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