Northern Arkansas county clerks report complications on election night

Runoffs possible after Arkansas primary Tuesday
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Several counties reported difficulties tallying ballots Tuesday evening once the polls closed.

A series of delays and significant mishaps plagued the Baxter County Election Commission as candidates eagerly awaited to learn the unofficial results for their primary races. The mishaps included a lost thumb drive containing a count of the votes from Midway’s polling location, a chain of custody issues, misplaced summary tapes, and two unsealed tabulation machines used throughout the day.

“A gentlemen told me he had found it (thumb drive) in the bathroom but didn’t want to pick it up. Meanwhile, we were running because we didn’t have the thumb drive from Midway and were re-running the ballots,” Election Commissioner Judy Garner said in an interview with KTLO.

Baxter County recounted that the center’s paper ballots and the state Election Commission confirmed all procedures happened correctly.

“It’s unofficial yet because we don’t have the provisional in, but yes, so far, what we have done is correct,” said Garner.

Due to technical difficulties, election commissioners in Marion County suspended counting votes late Tuesday night. The commission issued a statement saying they had technical problems with the machines and stopped trying to get the votes counted at 11:15.

There are four county-wide races in Marion County, including for judge and sheriff, along with voting for Arkansas State House of Representatives District 4 and Arkansas State District Judge District 10.

Officials were expected to be back at the Marion County Courthouse Wednesday morning to resume working on getting the votes counted. Neither the Marion County Clerk’s Officer nor Election Commission was able to speak with us on how the situation was resolved.

Several runoff elections will take place, including the race for Boone County Judge. According to Boone County Election officials, confusion regarding whether the new Arkansas law known as the 40/20 rule will apply to the primary race for Boone County Judge has been solved.

“One person has to get 40% of the votes and 20% more than the next person,” said Crystal Graddy, Boone County Clerk.

The new rule only applies for general elections, meaning any race with more than two candidates that do not have one candidate achieving at least 50% plus one vote of the total votes cast will come down to a runoff, scheduled for June 21.

Both Boone County judge candidates say if there is anything in question, a runoff is the best way to maintain voter integrity.

“I want to make sure that people know the elections are done right, so I think a runoff is a proper thing to do,” said Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway.

“Our country was founded for those reasons. It’s important to let the people choose their leaders,” said candidate Bobby Woods. “That’s the integrity of an election and the people’s choice.”

Runoff elections are scheduled for June 21. In Boone County, runoffs will also take place for Constable North, between Fred Starnes and Daniel J Mehn, and the race for Senate District 28 will come down to Incumbent Bob Ballinger and former State Senator Bryan King.

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