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Washington County vote count adds 2 more ballots

No outcomes changed in GOP runoff by Tom Sissom | July 1, 2022 at 3:07 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County election officials added two more votes to the total from the June 21 Republican Party runoff, but no outcomes were changed.

Jennifer Price, executive director of the Election Commission, said two provisional ballots were added to the election day total. Two other provisional ballots weren't counted.

The commission is set to meet at 1 p.m. today to certify the results of the June 21 runoff election.

Price said the provisional ballots counted were cast by voters who were listed as having requested absentee ballots, but who voted in person. Once it was determined the voters hadn't returned the absentee ballots, their votes were counted.

Price said the provisional ballots not counted had other issues. One voter had cast a vote in the Democratic Party primary election and wasn't eligible to vote in the Republican runoff election. The second ballot to be rejected was cast by a voter who wasn't registered with the county. Price said the voter told poll workers she registered at a state revenue office. That information wasn't transferred to Washington County, Price said.

Election commissioners were able to accept one similar ballot after the May 24 primary when the voter was able to show a receipt from the revenue office listing her voter registration among the business she transacted.

Max Deitchler, election commissioner, said the problem of voter registration information not being transferred from the revenue offices to county clerks is one that needs to be resolved.

"This has been a problem through the administrations of at least three governors," Deitchler said. "It's been a problem since before I came on the Election Commission 10 years ago. Every election, we have people being disenfranchised because they registered to vote at a government office and that government office has lost their information."

Deitchler said Arkansas government processes and election laws need to be brought up to date and allow for online voter registration. He said voters now have to register in person or by returning a paper registration form through the mail if they don't register at the revenue office. He said online registration would provide for the same checks and safeguards as registration by mail.

"There's no more chance of voter registration fraud in an online process than there is in a mail-in process," he said. "They're checking your information when you register to vote either way. I think, if we have online registration, we can get more people registered to vote and increase voter turnout. Technology has advanced. Government needs to do the same."

Scott Hardin, spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration in Little Rock, said federal law under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the "Motor Voter Act," requires the department offer voter registration services.

Hardin said Thursday afternoon that he heard of at least one instance from Northwest Arkansas where a complaint was made about missing voter registration information. Hardin said the voter registration information that's gathered at the state revenue offices is entered into a database and transferred to the Secretary of State's office nightly. The secretary of state's office makes the information available to county clerks' offices, he said. After the Department of Finance and Administration received the complaint he was aware of, Hardin said, the system was reviewed to make sure the data was being transferred.

"If that's a concern, we would certainly take another look, and we will continue to review that," he said.

Print Headline: County vote count adds 2 more ballots


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