PB filing: Handling of ballots improper

Candidate seeks court injunction

PINE BLUFF -- A candidate for Jefferson County judge has requested an injunction be served to the Jefferson County Election Commission over how its members have secured early voting totals.

Candidate Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV and attorney Jerry Malone said in a complaint filed Thursday that the commission, which supervises early voting in Jefferson County, violated a county election procedure when it instructed a worker to collect voting totals at the end of each day during early voting and deliver them to the commission for storage.

Wilkins is requesting that all early voting machines, ballots and electronic voting materials remain under the control and supervision of the Jefferson County clerk until unofficial totals are sent to the Arkansas secretary of state on the evening before the runoff election day.

Runoff elections are Tuesday.

"Based on reasonable information and belief, employees, agents, representatives or assigns of the Jefferson County Election Commission have already been given orders or instructions on how to thwart this early voting election process by improperly and illegally taking control of the voted ballots at the end of [Thursday] and each day thereafter during the currently underway early voting period," the injunction request, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, said.

Wilkins requested that the court issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the commission from taking control of e̶a̶r̶l̶y̶ ̶e̶l̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶b̶a̶l̶l̶o̶t̶s̶ early election materials, including voting machines and electronic voting records*. A court hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, the day before the runoff.

"It's much ado about nothing by people that don't understand the process," Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stuart Soffer said.

"The whole issue appears to be an effort by the plaintiff to garner free publicity and perhaps a few sympathy votes," Soffer added.

The commission voted Thursday afternoon to give the Jefferson County prosecuting attorney the authority to "resolve the issue in a manner as appropriate," Soffer said.

Wilkins faces incumbent Dutch King in the runoff. King received 5,153 votes during the primary election. Wilkins received 4,064 votes.

Metro on 03/18/2016

CORRECTION: Jefferson County judge candidate Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV requested that Jefferson County Circuit Court issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the Jefferson County Election Committee from taking control of early election materials, including voting machines and electronic voting records. This article incorrectly described the early voting materials listed in the complaint.

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