FAYETTEVILLE -- Election officials Thursday added 47 votes to those cast in the Dec. 1 runoff election in Fayetteville and Springdale. The additional votes left the winners unchanged.
Washington County's Election Commission reviewed provisional and absentee ballots. Jennifer Price, executive director of the commission, said 40 provisional ballots were reviewed because the voters were sent absentee ballots, but chose to vote in person. Other voters had to cast provisional ballots for reasons including not having the required identification or not living in the correct ward to be eligible to vote in the Fayetteville race.
City council races in both Fayetteville and Springdale were decided in the runoff election.
In Fayetteville, D'Andre Jones defeated Tanner Pettigrew for the open Ward 1, Position 2 seat. Council member Sarah Marsh didn't seek reelection. In the election day unofficial results, Jones received 1,040 (72%) votes and Pettigrew 408 votes (28%). Thursday's review added 30 votes to Jones' total and three votes to Pettigrew's.
Mark Fougerousse won the race for Ward 4, Position 2 in Springdale. Councilwoman Kathy Jaycox, the incumbent, was on the ballot but withdrew from the election after ballots were printed. In the election day unofficial results, Fougerousse received 850 votes (79%) and Jaycox received 226 votes (21%). Fougerousse picked up six votes and Jaycox seven.
Kim Dennison, election coordinator for Benton County, said there were no outstanding ballots in the Springdale race from the part of the city in Benton County.
Price said another 19 absentee ballots didn't have copies of voters' photo IDs in the envelopes. Those voters were sent letters telling them they have until noon Dec. 7 to bring their ID to the County Clerk's Office and have their votes counted.
The commissioners also reviewed 10 absentee ballots where poll workers had questioned the signatures on the papers submitted. The commission voted to accept five ballots and reject the other five.
Max Deitchler, one of the commission members, questioned the process of having the commissioners compare voter signatures and said the requirement is a part of state law that predates the requirement for voters to show an accepted form of photo identification.
"With the ID requirement there's really no need to compare signatures," Deitchler said. "I'm sure the Legislature just didn't consider that on the back end when they approved the voter ID."
Deitchler suggested the commission recommend changes in the law during the next legislative session to eliminate the requirement. Commission member Bill Ackerman agreed the Legislature might consider changes.
"It's the way it is now," Ackerman said. "Until it's changed, we have to deal with it."
Washington County’s Election Commission will meet at 9 a.m Dec. 11 in the County Courthouse to certify the results of the Dec. 1 runoff election races for positions on the Fayetteville and Springdale city councils. Before the certification, the commission will hold a provisional ballot hearing where any voter whose provisional ballot wasn’t counted can challenge that decision.
Source: Washington County