By Jackson Baker
Memphis Flyer

MEMPHIS, TN — With early voting underway as of last Friday (and continuing through August 1st) and Election Day itself rapidly approaching, requests for mail-in ballots for the August 6th county general election and federal/state primaries are being described, alternatively, as “through the roof” and “spiking.” (To secure a mail-in absentee ballot, you must apply by July 30th; see sidebar.)

The election has been hampered by the continuing coronavirus pandemic, which has made for sporadic and low-key campaigning, and it would, in normal circumstances, be regarded as an anticlimactic way station between the Tennessee presidential primary of last March and the forthcoming presidential election in November.

There are, however, U.S. Senate and Congressional primaries on the local ballot, as well as school board seats, a clerkship, and legislative primaries. And the unusual amount of absentee voting could inflate the final figures beyond expectation.

There have been numerous hitches and obstructive actions by the state or other election authorities in the wake of Nashville Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle’s June 5th order mandating universal eligibility for absentee ballots during the COVID-19 crisis, but Lyle and attorneys for Memphis’ Up the Vote 901 plaintiffs have persistently pushed them aside. Most recently, as of the weekend, plaintiffs secured a consent order requiring that stickers relating to the COVID circumstances be affixed to an information mailer from the Shelby County Election Commission that had omitted that information.

County General Election

The only overtly partisan clash on the August 6th ballot is the battle between former Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd, a Republican, and Joe Brown, a former long-term member of the Memphis City Council. They’re vying for the office of General Sessions Court Clerk, to succeed the retiring Ed Stanton Jr.

The other main races on the county general election portion of the ballot are nonpartisan ones for five seats on the nine-member Shelby County Schools Board. At stake are the District 2 seat, sought only by incumbent Althea Greene, and the seats for:

District 3 (candidates Jesse Jeff, Aaron Youngblood, and incumbent Stephanie P. Love);

District 4 (Clyde Wayne Pinkston, Tamarques Porter, Kristy Sullivan, and incumbent Kevin Woods);

District 5 (Paul Evelyn Allen, April Grueder, Sheleah Harris, and incumbent Scott McCormick). The name of Mauricio Calvo is on the ballot, too, but he has discontinued his race;

District 6 (Trevor Johnson Banks and incumbent Miska Clay Bibbs)

The only other race on the general election portion of the ballot is one for Collierville Municipal Judge, in which Lee Ann Pafford Dobson is unopposed.