Lonoke County election process back on track after derailing, official says

Despite widespread problems that spurred a lawsuit and delayed results for more than 24 hours in Tuesday's judicial and party primary elections, the Lonoke County Election Commission said Thursday that the county is on target for a smooth general election in November.

Lonoke County was the last in the state to submit election returns to Secretary of State Mark Martin's office from Tuesday's election.

Lonoke County Election Commission Chairman Stubby Stumbaugh said three machines would not shut down after the polls closed Tuesday, delaying the count. The results were released late Wednesday.

"The biggest issue was lack of experience among the commission and complete malfeasance of the county clerk," Stumbaugh said, speaking of Lonoke County Clerk Dawn Porterfield.

[ELECTIONS COVERAGE: Find all results + stories]

Stumbaugh said Porterfield, as the keeper of the records, was "missing in action" throughout the election.

But in an interview, Porterfield said she was on the ballot, which prohibited her from helping with the election. She added that she was in touch with Stumbaugh throughout the day by phone.

"My employees were there for him and that's the best I can do for him," Porterfield also said. She won re-election.

Stumbaugh credited Porterfield's employees for helping during the election, as well as Martin's office, state election coordinator Josh Bridges and the state Board of Election Commissioners.

"They have been phenomenal in answering my questions and assisting us in closing out this election," Stumbaugh said.

Problems plagued the Lonoke election process from the time the polls opened at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. One polling site -- the England Recreation and Fitness Center on 107 Valley View Drive -- remained closed until well after 10 a.m. Tuesday after the voting machines malfunctioned.

Stumbaugh said the equipment failures occurred because the all-new election commission officials did not insert some flash drives correctly and some machines were damaged from being stored in a building without climate control.

The state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by Democrats who wanted the Lonoke County polls to stay open until 10 on election night to make up for the earlier closure in England and the unavailability of Democratic paper ballots at the site.

A formal complaint against the Lonoke County Election Commission and the secretary of state was filed Wednesday with the state Board of Election Commissioners. The state commission has six months to investigate and make a determination if a reprimand is warranted.

Thursday was spent loading up the machines and storing them in their temporary home in the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex building until a new climate-controlled building can be located.

Stumbaugh said he is starting now to prepare for the Nov. 6 general election. He is working with Martin's office for training and will call the election team together next week to discuss the issues and to create a strategic plan to prevent a replay of Tuesday.

Lonoke County is on track to replace the 12-year-old machines in a 50/50 arrangement with the secretary of state's office, Stumbaugh said, adding that the purchase would cost the county about $188,000.

The commission is also working with Doug Erwin, county juduge of Lonoke County, for a new building to house the machines where they will be safe from the elements and pests.

"Judge Erwin has bent over backwards to help us," Stumbaugh said.

Through all the problems, Stumbaugh said he found at least one thing for which to be grateful.

"I am not the greatest person and my attendance record at church isn't the greatest, but I tell you this, I thank the Lord there was not a runoff in any of those races," Stumbaugh said.

Following are Lonoke County results from Tuesday's primary election. Republicans denoted by (R). Incumbents denoted by an asterisk (*):




Steve Rich (R) 31

Shay Cornwell (R) 29


T. Lucas Minton (R) 70

Clint Reaves (R) 39


Carla Horton (R) 2,604

James Pearson (R) 2,361


Donna Pedersen (R) 2,595

Teresa Cruise (R) 1,789

Cleta Hardy (R) 728


*Dawn Porterfield (R) 3,280

Courtney Ruble (R) 1,878



*Therese O'Donnell (R) 3,490

Lynn Clarke (R) 1,696



Tate House (R) 308

Billy Gilliam (R) 152





41.50-MILL TAX

Against 2,806

For 2,091

Metro on 05/25/2018

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