The first recorded election in Shelby County occurred in April, 1827. At that time, all voting occurred at the Courthouse on paper ballots written out by the voters.
Early in the 1900's, pre-printed ballots were first used. Votes were tallied at the courthouse. In 1950, many were calling for Shelby County to use some sort of mechanical voting machine as it took nearly forty hours to tabulate the results. It wasn't until 1958, however, that the first voting machines were purchased. The County purchased 700 voting machines at a cost of $710,000. The picture below show the voting machines in use in 1970. (Photo by Fred Griffith, courtesy of the Commercial Appeal.)
In 1986, the County purchased new Shouptronic voting machines, which were the first electronic voting devices.
In 1998, touch screen direct record electronic (DRE) machines were purchased for early voting. These machines were manufactured by Global Election Company. By 2006, Global Election had been acquired by Diebold. In 2006, the entire county went to DRE machines because the Shuptronic machines could not accomodate the longest ballot ever seen in Shelby County. The County spent $4.2 million for these machines and they are still in use today. The current machines are nearing end of life and the Commission is planning to replace them in 2021.
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