LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Pulaski County Elections Commission has been working overtime to get the final ballots of the 2020 general election in. Previously uncounted absentee and provisional ballots were added to the grand total late this week, a move that shook things up for the District 32 seat.
In Pulaski, the general election is stretching on. As the new numbers slowly roll in, some say these additional votes are a game changer. “It has been probably the most bizarre week/ten days of my entire life,” commented Ashley Hudson. Hudson has been trailing her District 32 opponent, Republican Rep. Jim Sorvillo, by 44 points at last count. But as of Saturday, the district flipped, and Hudson found herself leading by 25. “I’m elated, but cautiously so,” she said.
These new numbers come from previously uncounted absentee ballots that needed to be verified, and a large number of in-person ballots that after some time were cleared for the count. “[We counted] 1,108 approved provisionals,” explained Kristi Stahr with the Pulaski County Elections Commission. But the commission ran into some problems when their final count was higher than estimated. “We had an extra 327 votes that are in the total right now that were rejected ballots,” Stahr said.
Although it’s unclear whether these additional votes made a major impact on the race, the closeness of the final results points to a possible recount. Sorvillo says he’s looking closely at the process, “As we must, to do our part to assure that lawful votes of lawful voters are counted – and counted only once – and not diluted by disqualified ballots or other irregular ballots that did not meet legal requirements.” If a candidate wants to request a recount, they have to do so soon so the counting can be done by the certification date next week. “It would have to be done over the weekend,” Stahr explained of the requests, “and it would have to be done by Wednesday.” Hudson says the ability to see the ins and outs of the counting process is necessary for transparency, and can sometimes reveal that our election system, although fair, isn’t always perfect. “Part of seeing a process as it unfolds,” she said, “is that sometimes it’s messy.”
The elections commission still has over a dozen absentee ballots left to verify in this election. That process will begin Monday with the County Clerk’s office, with the final results coming Wednesday. You can view the entire provisional ballot process on the Pulaski County Elections Commission YouTube page, here.