Don't just complain. Become an election worker.

Today's story advancing the opening of early voting focuses on promises the Shelby County Election Commission is making about improving in the wake of the now-dismissed lawsuit losing Democrats filed over the Aug. 5 county general election, which they alleged was so filled with mistakes that it made the results "incurably uncertain." Chancery Court judge Arnold Goldin ruled they had delivered no evidence showing intentional fraud or illegality, but as voters hit the polls beginning at 10 today, doubts are going to be fresh in some voters minds -- no matter the assertions by Commission officials that elections are more efficient and less prone to error than ever before.

Finding good workers to put on the election is a big emphasis from the Commission and its administrator of elections, Rich Holden. They didn't say this, but I will -- voters of all stripes are much more apt to whine about the inevitable messiness of the democratic process than to step up and try and make it less messy.

Holden told me: "The most important thing is the elections are conducted by the voters. The No. 1 problem in every jurisdiction in American is getting enough workers -- quality workers -- to conduct an election."

Some of this came up at the trial, with lead Commission lawyer Sam Muldavin basing his opening argument on those nonpartisan Commission civil servants who have worked in some cases for decades with relatively meager resources and relying on part-time workers to conduct elections. In his ruling, Goldin chose to read from the deposition of Dennnis Boyce, the 17-year employee who inadvertantly loaded the wrong database of early-voters into the Aug. 5 Election Day electronic poll books. It's worth reading:

"I want to say this one thing. You know we are a very small staff at the Election Commission, we work our tails off each election and anything that goes awry or anybody that does not double check or anything like that, we are on them all the time. ... We don't mess around. We have an honest staff that works here, some of them have been around a long time, and I just wanted to say, for the record, for us to go through this process and to be claimed to be dishonest in some kind of way, is really a slap in the face. Because we do this all the time. This is what we do."
Holden encourages anyone interested to call the Election Commission at 545-4125 or go to for more information. "I would challenge the voter," Holden said, "that if you walk in to vote and you don't like what's being done on the other side of the table, then change sides, become an election official and solve the problem."

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As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at or 529-2564.

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