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Start of paper ballot mail-out set for Wednesday

If all goes smoothly with the unpacking and inventory, the first batch of paper ballots for the Presidential Election will be mailed out on Wednesday, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

On Monday, the 175,000 paper ballots for the Presidential Election arrived at the O.C. Pleasant Jr., Election Operations Center. The ballots must be unpacked and inventoried, which is projected to take a couple of days with 14 employees.

The Election Commission reports receiving nearly 20,000 requests for absentee, or mail-in ballots. In 2016, there were about 8,000 requests for absentee ballots.

“As soon as the ballot was approved by the Coordinator of Elections in Nashville, it was sent to a commercial printer,” said Linda Phillips, administrator of elections. “A print order of this size isn’t an overnight job.”

Ballots will not be mailed out in the order in which the ballot requests were received.

Ballots are separated by precinct.

“Having workers run from one group of ballots to another simply to fulfill the requests according to the date received, is not the most efficient way to get the ballots to the voters,” Phillips said.

Instead, large batches of ballots are pulled from the inventory by precinct.

“This method is the quickest and most efficient,” Phillips said. “We know voters are eager to get their ballots, and we are working to get them their ballots as soon as humanly possible.”

October 27 is the last day to request a ballot. To allow plenty of time for the ballot to move through the postal system, Phillips is urging voters not to delay in requesting a ballot.

According to the Election Commission, voters who request a mail-in ballot may not vote on a machine if they go to a polling place to vote in person, making it important that voters decide definitely whether they want to vote in person or by mail before requesting a mail-in ballot.

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