HOT SPRINGS, AR – Claims that absentee ballots went uncounted until Thursday (11/6) have an Election Commission on the defensive.
The race for Mayor in Hot Springs is separated by a matter of several dozen votes.
So when three bags of roughly 160 ballots were found uncounted Wednesday night, it raised some eyebrows in the Spa City.
The Garland County Election Commission insists this had zero effect on the potential outcome of the race. In fact, it strengthened the lead incumbent Mayor Ruth Carney already had.
The Commission wanted to make things clear that this wasn’t a matter of having finished the counting process only to find there were more left behind. Commissioners said they knew all along how many ballots they were supposed to have.
“And we double checked today and we have exactly that number,” explained Commissioner Alan Clark.
He says they were still on their first count of absentee ballots by the time they wrapped things up Wednesday evening but before one of the Commissioners left they realized there were three bags still left in the vault where the ballots are supposed to be locked anyway.
“You know how rumors go,” Clark added. “I’m sure somebody thought we didn’t know there were ballots and we found them. That’s not true.”
There were about 160 ballots to be counted in those bags but they didn’t affect the outcome of the race. Incumbent Mayor Ruth Carney extended her lead to 39 over challenger Pat McCabe.
The two candidates actually came in Thursday afternoon to watch some counting after the news got out. According to the Commission, each were satisfied.
The commissioners expect to be done with all the counting by the end of the week but likely won’t certify the numbers for another week.