A consistent problem in Shelby County elections has been the distribution of sample ballots by political entrepreneurs who charge candidates for appearing on them.
Candidate John Marek, a well-known Democratic activist
who is running for the District 5 City Council seat in the October 3 city election, was outraged when he saw one being mailed and passed out
under the auspices of the “Greater Memphis Democratic Club,” a shell organization operated by entrpreneur Greg Grant that exists mainly to issue sample ballots.
Compounding Marek’s sense of injury was that his opponent, Worth Morgan, is a known Republican, as are three other candidates endorsed on the ballot. All four are official endorsees of the Shelby County Republican Party. A further issue is that the ballot employed several facsimiles of the official City of Memphis seal, a possible violation of both city and state codes.
Backed by the Shelby County Democratic Party and represented by civil liberties attorney Bruce Kramer, Marek undertook to get a Temporary Restraining Order against further distribution of the ballot in Chancery Court on Thursday. The plaintiffs were stymied. How?
Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins confessed that he would need to recuse himself because he had bought onto a previous election ballot distributed by Grant as well as one by another ballot entrepreneur, M. LaTroy Alexandria-Williams, also cited in the suit. The plaintiffs hope to seek redress from another judge in another court on Friday.
Marek said that the unexpected snafu was yet another instance of why the pay-for-play ballots should be restricted or banned.