Some voters have reported problems leading up to Tuesday's runoff election that will decide who will be Little Rock's next mayor, including incorrect ballots used in the general election and failure to receive absentee ballots for the runoff.
Early voting is underway in the runoff between Baker Kurrus and Frank Scott Jr., who advanced from a field of five candidates in the Nov. 6 election.
Pulaski County elections director Bryan Poe confirmed that some voters who live in the unincorporated Sweet Home and Higgins areas on the city's outskirts were given the wrong ballot for the general election.
Jo Ann Kendrick, who lives up the highway from Sweet Home on Springer Boulevard, and her cousin, Janice Marie Pitts, who lives in Higgins, said the Little Rock mayor's race was on the ballots they were given for the general election, but when they tried to vote early in the runoff election they were told they could not vote in the race.
Kendrick and Pitts were given provisional paper ballots and were told that they would find out after the runoff election if their votes were counted.
People who live in the unincorporated areas south of the city may have Little Rock mailing addresses, but that doesn't mean they live within the voting boundary, Poe said. He said the problem was not systemic or widespread, and likely resulted from mistakes made by individual workers.
"That shows incompetence," Kendrick said of receiving the wrong ballot in the general election.
Pitts said she voted in the general election at the Pulaski County Regional Building on West Markham Street and tried to vote early for the runoff at the Sue Cowan Williams Library on South Chester Street. She said she felt misled and that information about who can vote in which election should have been distributed more widely.
"I get it if it's not permissible, but they should not mislead," she said.
Poe said voters in Pulaski County should have received a voter registration card through the mail from the county Election Commission. The card states the voters' precincts and the elections in which they are eligible to vote. That information also can be found on pulaskiclerk.com, or by calling (501) 340-8336.
"Unfortunately, the election process is not a perfect process," Poe said.
[2018 ELECTION: Full Democrat-Gazette coverage of Arkansas races]
Some voters who also had requested absentee ballots for the runoff had not yet received them as of Friday. Poe said between 1,600 and 1,700 ballots were requested for the Little Rock mayor's race, and people who requested to vote absentee for the general election are automatically set up to receive absentee ballots for the runoff election.
Runoffs mean that certifying, printing and sending ballots happen on a short timeline, Poe said. The results of the Nov. 6 election were certified Nov. 16. Absentee ballots were put in the mail Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 but weren't postmarked until Nov. 26 or Nov. 27.
Poe attributed the delay to a busy time of year for the U.S. Postal Service.
"It's something we don't really have any control over," he said.
He said people who planned to vote absentee could vote early or go to the polls Tuesday if they are able and cast a provisional ballot.
Scott, 35, and Kurrus, 64, advanced to Tuesday's runoff after none of the five candidates in the general election managed to get at least 40 percent of the vote. Scott received the most votes with 25,076, and Kurrus moved on to the runoff after receiving 19,620 votes.
Warwick Sabin, Vincent Tolliver and Glen Schwarz failed to advance to the runoff. Sabin received 19,089 votes in the general election, while Tolliver had 2,014 and Schwarz received 1,774.
Metro on 12/02/2018