Runoff needed in Bull Shoals, Ark. mayoral race

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:22 PM CST
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YELLVILLE, Ark. (KY3) - The Marion County Clerk’s Office determined a runoff regardless of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting (UOCAVA) ballots will be necessary for the race for mayor in the city of Bulls Shoals.

According to the Marion County Election Commission, the race between the top two candidates: incumbent David Nixon and Michael Savu, came down to a difference of just two votes.

During the early voting period, a ballot error was discovered in Bull Shoals regarding the town residence of the 7th precinct.

“Mayoral and city council races were not showing up on ballots for members of one precinct in the city,” said Garett Schnoor with the election commission. “There are three precincts in the city, and one was not getting the correct ballot.”

Once the error was caught (with the help of voters), the commission says it took proper steps to fix it as soon as possible. The county narrowed down eight voters affected by the ballot error, all of whom were given handwritten ballots to fix the issue through the county clerk’s office.

Despite the issue seeming to be resolved, it had several people concerned.

“Social media, everyone was commenting about it, and when they said they got it fixed, that’s when I decided to come and vote to make sure mine counted for sure,” said Jamie Peveto, a Bull Shoals resident that spoke with KY3 when she cast her ballot during the early voting period.

Most would say the concern is justified in a race as tight as this.

“The two leading candidates were only two votes apart by the time we had our unofficial count,” said Schnoor. “Now adding provisional, they’re one vote apart. This is so close it’s ridiculous.”

Schnoor says the election commission was diligent in correcting the ballot mistake: feeling a runoff election would end any dispute with its effect on the November 8 election.

It is unsure what led to the ballot error in Bull Shoals. Initially, the Marion County Election Commission told KY3 it was believed to be a result of the 2020 census that led to a mapping error at the state level. However, the Arkansas State Board of Elections members says it has nothing to do with mapping for municipal voting and that the error could have occurred in several ways.

Runoff elections across Arkansas are set for December 6, with early voting beginning a week prior.

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