Some Jefferson County ballots missing a key Senate race, emergency meeting called

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ark. — The election commission put out a statement today regarding the special meeting that was called about the incorrect Senate races on the ballots.

The Jefferson County Clerk learned today around 11:30 a.m. that the incorrect Senate race was on Democratic ballot styles 12 and 14.

The race for District 27 should have been listed but District 25 was.

“I was very disturbed over the issue,” Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson said. “We shouldn’t have this happening. We’ve had elections time after time after time.”

In a 2-to-1 decision the commission voted to re-program the voting machines for the precincts involved. It also gave a 10-day return time for the District 27 Absentee Ballots. Those ballots must now be counted by hand.

152 votes were cast early, the commission is seeking legal advice on whether to count them or not.

“Regardless if my race is decided by a difference of a thousand votes or 250 votes, every vote should counted and no citizen should have their vote thrown out on a technicality of a mistake,” District 27 candidate Keidra Burrell said.

“I’m just perplexed as to how something like this could happen,” District 25 candidate Efrem Elliot said.

This error effects precincts 221, 222, 223 and 224. This is what has been done to rectify the error and a special meeting of the election is needed for 5 p.m. today to approve the temporary measures taken for election day. Measures taken by the Clerk for early voting were at the advice of counsel. They will be effective.

Additionally, the Clerk will be reaching out to every absentee ballot voter in these precincts and mailing them the supplement Senate District 27 ballot.

Meanwhile county Judge Gerald Robinson said he’s worried this will effect the voter turnout next week.

“This is a very big issue and voter confidence will be very low because of this,” Robinson said.

Conversely, the election commission will count absentee ballots from these four districts by hand to ensure no votes cast in the wrong race are counted; and, the supplemental ballots will be counted upon receipt, probably at the March 13 meeting when provisional ballots are adjudicated.

For the immediate, Election Systems & Software has confirmed only these four precints were involved.

Up until the discrepancy was discovered, 152 voters from there four precincts voted early.

Early voters from precincts 221, 222, 223 and 224 henceforth for this election will be voted on a paper ballot using excess absentee ballots.

The race for Senate District 25 printed on these ballots will be marked out and an attachment containing the Senate District 27 race will be attached.

The County Clerk will also attach the voter’s early voting authorization form to each ballot as the internal control.These voters will also sign the List of Voters at the Clerk’s office.

For election day, all four of these precincts vote at First Baptist Church on Hazel Street in Pine Bluff. ES&S is in the process of preparing new media which will be overnighted to us.

Those iVotronics will be reprogrammed on Monday and everything should be normal for election day voters.

The election commission is informing the four Democratic Senate candidates involved once SOS provides their e-mail addresses.

Commissioners said they want to remind people if you see anything say something. They said they felt like multiple people saw the mistake but didn’t report it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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