Political Roundup: End of early voting, the Toney challenge, Moody’s support

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 03, 2022 10:14 AM CT | Published: April 28, 2022 4:00 AM CT

Due to the upcoming Shelby County primary election, The Daily Memphian is making our election coverage free to all readers. Please consider supporting local journalism and this community by subscribing to this site or by donating to our organization. Thank you for your continued participation and support.

Early voting in advance of the May 3 county primary election day comes to an end Thursday, April 28, with the turnout poised to catch and possibly surpass the early balloting numbers from four years ago.

Here are the 26 early voting locations and hours.

For the last day of early voting, rides on the Memphis Area Transit Authority system — including MATA Plus and On Demand rides — are free for the entire system.

MATA providing free rides on last day of early voting

Through Monday, the turnout was about 1,700 voters short of the 2018 turnout on the 10th day of the voting period for the same county primary election cycle.

The final days of early voting are typically the heaviest days of turnout.

The Monday daily total of 3,154 was the highest daily total so far.

In 2018, early voting opened at all 20 locations across the county.

By contrast, early voting this time opened at only the Downtown Election Commission offices for the first two days followed by no voting on Good Friday and then a Saturday opening of the five other early voting locations that are not churches.

After Easter Sunday, all 26 early voting sites opened.

A special Chancery Court Judge rejected a call in a lawsuit against the Shelby County Election Commission by UpTheVote901, the Black Clergy Collaborative and the Memphis Branch NAACP for a court order that would have opened up additional sites from the first day.

Since that ruling, all sides in the lawsuit have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit’s larger and longer pursuit of a ruling declaring the limited early voting site locations and hours of operation unconstitutional.

Toney candidacy follow-up

Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Cary Vaughn said it is up to the state GOP to determine if Brandon Toney remains in the August Republican primary for state Senate District 31.

The decision determines whether Brent Taylor runs uncontested on the August ballot as the Republican nominee for the suburban state Senate seat Brian Kelsey is leaving.

Toney was ruled ineligible because he hadn’t voted in three of the past four Republican state primaries. But Toney was also in the process of rounding up letters of support in pursuit of a waiver from the state party’s executive committee.

<strong>Brandon Toney</strong>

Brandon Toney

In his quest to get back on the ballot, Toney has questioned Vaughn’s impartiality as county chairman in contested primaries because Vaughn contributed $250 to Taylor’s campaign.

Vaughn said he has maintained impartiality and that Republican bylaws do not forbid a county chairman from contributing.

“If Toney is not a qualified, bona fide candidate, then technically he’s not on the ballot,” Vaughn told The Daily Memphian Wednesday. “As of today, he’s not on the ballot.”

Vaughn also described Toney as “0-for-4” in voting in the past four statewide Republican primaries.

Arlington to appeal census maps over county line discrepancy

“There’s no witch hunt. It just comes down to when you look at the last four primaries, he’s zero for four,” Vaughn said. “When you look at the last 14 years that he’s been eligible to vote, he’s voted three times. We don’t make the rules. We just try to adhere to the rules.”

Toney’s campaign was doubling down on its rhetoric, claiming Republican party leaders are preventing voters from deciding the primary at the ballot box in August.

An appeal on Toney’s campaign Facebook account Wednesday read: “Please help us expose the corruption in the Shelby County Republican Party.”

Two Republican primaries are already throwing sparks

Another Facebook post Wednesday read: “The Swamp is a real thing and it exist right here in Shelby County.”

“Nobody’s trying to block him from running,” Vaughn said of the dispute. “He knew the bona fide issue before he decided to run.”

Moody’s support

With early voting halfway through, Ken Moody, a Democratic contender for Shelby County mayor, did what he could with his ties to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Moody is an assistant to Strickland.

Moody’s challenge of Democratic incumbent Lee Harris is built on a foundation of applying Strickland’s “brilliant at the basics” to county government.

But Strickland isn’t endorsing Moody or Harris in the May primary.

Moody’s friends come forward as he challenges Harris, hints at revealing memos

That didn’t stop Moody’s campaign from posting an image of him with Strickland and former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. Herenton has endorsed Moody.

The wording with the picture in the Twitter version is the critical element:

“I’ve had the privilege to work my way up through the ranks of government thanks to the support of two Memphis Mayors, Jim Strickland and Dr. Willie W. Herenton,” it reads.

The support from Strickland, in this case, is helping Moody gain experience but not support in his bid for county mayor.

City communications chief Ursula Madden confirmed that fact.

“The Mayor has not made an endorsement,” she told The Daily Memphian by email.

The direct mail piece including the picture with Strickland and Herenton has a different text that is Herenton’s endorsement of Moody.

Greene and the phone tree

Shelby County Commission contender and Memphis Shelby County Schools board member Althea Greene appears to have used the school system’s urgent message platform to send robocalls to parents and others connected to the school system to encourage them to vote early.

In the message, she refers to the “MSCS family”

“We hope you take advantage of your civic duty to show up to the polls and vote,” Greene says. “Your voice and your vote — know that it counts and it really matters.”

School board member to run for Shelby County Commission

Greene makes no mention of the County Commission primaries on the May ballot or her candidacy in the Democratic primary for commission District 7.

Cartavius Black, one of the four other contenders in the May primary, called the message “unethical” and said it amounts to “using public funds and resources for personal gain.”

“As a board member, sending a message encouraging thousands of parents and families to vote in the county or municipal election is unusual,” Black said. “Doing this as someone who is on the county election ballot is unethical.”

“We deserve a commissioner who adheres to board policies and will think twice before making a decision that so clearly uses taxpayer dollars in an unethical way,” he said.

Tracking devices on election day

The bags used as part of the chain of custody of election day balloting materials for May 3 will have tracking devices in them, Elections Administrator Linda Phillips told election commissioners this week.

The plan is to use the tracking technology on memory cards and other parts of the voting machinery in future elections.

Goodbye Morning Sun, hello new precinct system

The Election Commission will also have a voter hotline at 222-1222 for voters to verify their precinct and election day polling place.

That action follows the first overhaul in two decades earlier this year of precinct boundaries and election day polling places in and a change of the precinct numbering system that dated back to the Crump era of Memphis politics.


2022 elections early voter turnout Brandon Toney Cary Vaughn State Senate District 31 Ken Moody Jim Strickland Althea Greene Linda Phillips

Bill Dries on demand

Never miss an article. Sign up to receive Bill Dries' stories as they’re published.

Enter your e-mail address

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


Want to comment on our stories or respond to others? Join the conversation by subscribing now. Only paid subscribers can add their thoughts or upvote/downvote comments. Our commenting policy can be viewed here