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200-300 votes not counted in Lonoke County

Winners of more than half a dozen races could change when missing votes are added.
"The vote is the most precious thing we have other than our own lives," said incumbent Lonoke County Tax Assessor Jack McNally. He thought he'd won his reelection bid by just four votes. Similarly, Circuit Clerk Denise Brown thought she'd lost her race by 121 votes, and Sheriff Candidate John Staley thought he'd gotten enough votes to enter into a runoff.

Just one problem -- the Lonoke County Election Commission says between 200 and 300 votes from the Magness Township precinct, just North of Cabot, were never counted.

"Whether they voted for me or my opponent - they voted," said McNally, "and then somehow someone here in our courthouse dropped the ball."

"We made a mistake on this," said Election Commission Chairman Tim Blair. "We acknowledge that."

Here's how the election commission thinks the problem happened: votes are stored on small disks called P.E.B's. The commission thinks the P.E.B's from the Magness precinct were misplaced, and therefore, those votes were never counted.

The election commission caught the mistake while double-checking their count the next morning. As a result, they now plan to publicly recount every single vote for every single race Friday night.

"We want everybody to have confidence in what we're doing," said Blair, "and the only way to do that is just to do it out in the open."

That's just fine with the candidates -- even the ones who thought they'd already won.

Said McNally, "I don't know if it's going to help me or hurt me but every vote counts, and these 300 people were almost discounted, you know?"

The public is invited to watch the vote recount Friday night. It'll take place at the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex at 6.
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