Politics » Politics Feature

Chancellor Evans Puts Lid on Election Records


After a late-afternoon hearing Wednesday, Chancellor Walter Evans issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Shelby County Election Commission and “its agents, employees, directors and attorneys” from “destroying, changing…modifying [or] moving” any documents, data cards, voter rolls or other relevant records, computerized or otherwise, used in connection with the recent general election.

Jay Bailey, one of two lawyers for four Democrats appealing the election results, said Evans also ordered that plaintiffs refer the matter to Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder for the appointment of a special chancellor to hear the now consolidated case.

Bailey represents Otis Jackson and Vernon Johnson, candidates for Shelby County clerk and Criminal Court clerk, respectively, while Mark Allen is attorney for two other plaintiffs, Juvenile Court clerk candidate Shep Wilbun and Sondra Becton, who ran for Probate Court clerk. The Election Commission this week certified the victory of Debbie Stamson and Bill Key over Jackson and Johnson, as well as that of Steve Stamson and Chris Thomas over Wilbun and Becton. The certified winners are Republicans, and all are incumbents except for Debbie Stamson.

The software, hard copies, and other data records are presumed to be at the Election Commission’s downtown headquarters, while the machines and other hardware employed in early voting and on election day are stored at the commission’s East Memphis operations center, said Bailey, who added that Judge Evans’ injunction also applied to Diebold, manufacturer of the machines.

Bailey said that as the case develops he will ask that Social Security numbers of voters be compared to their property registration documents and driver’s license records in order to determine their actual residence. He and John Harvey, a sheriff’s deputy and computer expert who conducts ongoing research into possible voting abuses, maintain that numerous votes -- "hundreds and possibly thousands," Bailey said -- may have been cast in the recent general election by out-of-county and out-of state voters.

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