Shelby County

Election Day remains quiet in Shelby County

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 08, 2022 9:31 PM CT | Published: November 08, 2022 11:59 AM CT

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Shelby County’s Election Day polling places opened quietly Tuesday, Nov. 8, with few lines and light campaigning.

Past the morning rush hour, many voters who either missed the two-week early voting period or who vote on Election Day by tradition were adjusting to new precincts and new locations.

Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips estimated the overall election turnout — absentee, early and Election Day — should be around 30% of the county’s 588,508 voters based on turnout at noon.

Ballot Basics: Election Day Nov. 8, 2022

That would add about 10% — or around 56,000 — to the 20%, or 120,000, that already turned out during the early voting period.

But politicos in recent election cycles have had optimistic projections for the afternoon Election Day vote that have noticeably fallen flat compared to the morning numbers.

Ian Randolph of the Shelby County Voter Alliance said he saw lines at some polling places he visited before the 7 a.m. opening that dissipated quickly once voters started casting ballots. 

“After the polls opened it was very slow but steady,” he said. “It wasn’t sporadic. It was slow but steady.”

Some polling places, churches in particular, appeared to be more rigidly enforcing the 100-foot markers — where candidates and their campaign workers cannot venture beyond in pursuit of voters.

Memphis Election Day answers questions away from national spotlight

Phillips said the election commission hadn’t issued any new rules for campaigning at the polls.

Those sites were noticeably calmer with fewer campaign workers Tuesday.

“We’ve not changed any of that,” she said. “You tend to have more campaign workers when there is more money. And there’s not a lot of money being spent on these races.

There were scattered reports of campaign literature finding its way into some Election Day polling places — in two cases at sign-in tables, which are the first stop for voters.

At Waypoint Church in Bartlett, Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Gabby Salinas made a formal complaint about a “Faith and Freedom Coalition” “voter guide” at the sign-in table. Democratic state House leader Karen Camper’s endorsement ballot was on both stations at the sign-in table at Mt. Zion AME Church in South Memphis.

Early voters’ numbers hint at Election Day turnout

While voters are allowed to bring such literature with them and use it when voting, the material cannot be distributed in the polling place or within the 100-foot barrier around it.

Shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m., Phillips said a number of polling places had problems with relatively new electronic poll books. They print the voting application that the voter signs.

“You had to do the setup steps in exactly the right order and if you skipped step two it wasn’t going to work,” she said of the problem that took about an hour to clear up at various polling places.

“Voters continued voting and we switched to our fill-out-the-paper form,” Phillips said.

Phillips, Randolph and election commission chairman Mark Luttrell began the day at Berclair Church of Christ, which was also an early voting site.

A group of 50 early voters got the wrong ballot there during early voting, prompting a check by the election commission of the other 25 early polling sites. The voters at the church got ballots that included the 8th Congressional District race when they should have had ballots with the 9th Congressional District race.

50 voters get wrong ballots at Berclair early voting site

Phillips said the problem was limited to those 50 voters at that site. It won’t become an issue unless one of the two Congressional races on the Shelby County ballot are decided by a margin of 50 or less votes.

Polls close at 7 p.m. The first vote totals released after that should be the early and absentee vote.


Nov 8 2022 election Shelby County Election Commission

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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.


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