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Ballot misspelling confirmed in Little Rock; mask dispute interrupts panel’s discussion

by Tony Holt | October 13, 2020 at 7:16 a.m.
'I Voted' stickers are shown in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Pulaski County election commissioners admitted Monday that a candidate's name will be misspelled on Little Rock voters' ballots.

Commissioners acknowledged the mistake during a tense Monday night meeting that was interrupted and briefly delayed by an argument over a commissioner's refusal to wear a face covering.

David Alan Bubbus, who is running for the at-large Position 9 seat on the Little Rock Board of Directors along with six other candidates, will appear on ballots as "David Alan Bubbas."

Commissioner Kristi Stahr said a voter noticed the mistake on a sample ballot and contacted her.

"I just really hate that," Stahr said during Monday's meeting.

She said Bubbus was "incredibly gracious" and understanding when he was notified of the mistake.

Bubbus said Monday night that it wasn't the first time his name has been misspelled.

"The Pulaski county election commission apologized and I was impressed with their professionalism in how they handled the mistake," Bubbus said in a text after the meeting. "Fun story/myth, my grandfather came over from Greece to Ellis island in New York and our name was misspelled & shortened from Pappadopoulos to Bubbus! Not the first time my name has been misspelled."

Commission Chairwoman Evelyn Gomez wrote a letter of apology to Bubbus.

"We felt we did a very thorough job of proofing the ballot in an extended process involving several people but failed to catch [it]," Gomez wrote.

Gomez said it would be "too late" to correct the paper and electronic ballots.

In her letter, Gomez promised to make corrections "wherever we can," including on future sample ballots. She also wrote that a notice would be posted at all early voting and Election Day polling locations informing voters of the error.

Discussion about the ballot error was halted when Pulaski County Director of Elections Bryan Poe spoke up and insisted that everyone attending the meeting in person wear a mask.

Poe was attending the meeting remotely, but could see who was in the meeting room at the elections office.

Gomez and Stahr were there along with Database Administrator Jodie Dildy. Gomez and Dildy wore a mask, but Stahr removed hers.

Stahr told Poe she removed her mask because she speaks with a quiet voice and wanted to make sure everyone attending the meeting via livestream could hear her. She also said she was seated 12 feet from the nearest person in the room and was properly socially distanced.

"You are not my superior and I don't appreciate your tone," Stahr told Poe.

Gomez told Poe to continue with the meeting.

Poe wasn't swayed and told everyone again to wear a mask.

"It is a requirement of all persons," he told commissioners.

Visibly irritated, Gomez asked that Poe be muted.

"Let me know when you're ready to discuss the agenda," Gomez said to Poe.

"We're going to be sitting here a long time," Poe told her.

Gomez called for a recess and the livestream stopped.

The meeting resumed with a new livestream about 10 minutes later. Stahr still was not wearing a mask when the meeting resumed, but she did put one on later in the meeting.

Barry Haas, a voter who was watching the meeting via YouTube, typed a message in the live chat box urging commissioners to wear their masks.

"I'm a long-time poll worker ... a veteran, older and with a medical condition, who has volunteered to work 10 days at no pay processing absentee ballots," Haas wrote.

"Election commissioners, please show some respect for election commission staff and those of us who will be working in that building in coming days," Haas continued. "Covid-19 is a deadly virus issue."

Bubbus, the owner of David's Burgers, is running for the the Position 9 seat currently held by Gene Fortson, who is not running for reelection.

Also running for the seat are:

• Tom Horton, a retired pharmacist.

• Rohn Muse, a professor.

• Dale Pekar, a retired economist.

• Antwan Phillips, an attorney.

• Glen Schwarz, a marijuana decriminalization advocate.

• Leron McAdoo, a community activist.

Print Headline: Ballot misspelling confirmed in Little Rock

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