The May 24 primary election results were certified as final and official Friday by Benton and Washington county election officials.
Jennifer Price, Washington County's election director, said she had been waiting for Friday's mail delivery to the County Clerk's Office to see if any more absentee ballots were returned in time to be considered. None arrived, and the Election Commission certified the results.
According to Election Commission records the final, official results show Washington County had 138,495 registered voters eligible to vote in the primary election. The turnout was 29,598, or 21%. Of the votes cast, 20,064 were in the Republican Party primary and 9,322 were in the Democratic Party primary. Another 212 voters cast ballots in the non-partisan judicial primary.
The commission reviewed provisional ballots Thursday and added 27 votes to the election day count, but the votes did not change any election outcomes.
Price told commissioners the results certified Friday didn't include candidates involved in runoff elections. The Republican Party has runoff contests for Washington County judge, justice of the peace for District 14 and constable for District 1. Those races involved multiple candidates, and since no one garnered a majority of the votes in the primary election, the top two vote-getters will face each other in a June 21 runoff election.
Patrick Deakins faces Mark Scalise in the county judge's race. Gary Ricker faces Aaron Wood for justice of the peace for District 14. John Buchan faces John Duggar in the constable race.
Price said there are also runoff elections for the Republican Party nominations for state Senate District 35, between Tyler Dees and Gayla McKenzie, and for state House District 23, between Kendra Moore and Jim Wilson.
Price said early voting for the runoff election begins June 14 and ends June 20. There will be no Saturday early voting in the runoff election. In Washington County, the County Clerk's Office in the County Courthouse will be the only location for early voting. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On election day, all but one of the vote centers used May 24 will be open. The Yvonne Richardson Center will not be open as a vote center, Price said.
Registered voters who cast ballots in the Republican Party primary election can vote in the runoff, as can those who only voted for nonpartisan and judicial candidates and those who cast no votes in the primary election. Voters who participated in the Democratic Party primary aren't eligible to vote in the runoff election.
The Benton County Election Commission also met Friday at its office in Rogers to certify the May 24 election results. There were 34,401 votes cast, a turnout of 20%. Of that, 29,038 votes were cast for Republicans, according to official results. There are 174,979 registered voters in Benton County.
The commission also approved Republican runoffs for state Senate District 35, state House Districts 12 and 13, and the Pea Ridge School Board in Zones 1 and 3. The runoff will be June 21.
The ballot draw for the Aug. 9 Siloam Springs primary election also was held at the meeting. The races will be in Wards 2 and 3.
There also was discussion at the end of the meeting about early voting locations. The three-member commission discussed adding an extra site for the five-day voting period outside of the County Clerk's Office. Early voting starts June 14.
Grant Hodges of Centerton, Republican candidate for state House District 14, said state law supports the commission adding another site. He suggested it be in Gravette to help voters in northwest Benton County who otherwise would have to drive to Siloam Springs or Bentonville to vote -- a 30-minute drive one way to either city from that part of the county. The result of the additional site would be more people voting, he said.
The candidates in runoffs for state Senate District 35 and state House District 12 are from that area, Hodges said. His area of representation wouldn't be impacted, he said.
Hope Hendren Duke of Gravette, a Republican candidate in a runoff for state House District 12 against Jay Oliphant, told the commission the desired result is to get people to vote. She also mentioned high gas prices in the area.
"That is a real deal right now," she said.
The commission, however, decided to keep early voting sites at the County Clerk's Office locations in Bentonville, Rogers and Siloam Springs.
Hodges said he was disappointed in the commission's decision.
"Things obviously need to be clarified, but I think the law provided the opportunity to add voting locations," he said. "The Election Commission had the opportunity to make it easier to vote in these runoff elections, and they voted not to do so, which I find disturbing and disappointing. The law allowed them to do it, and out of concern for the future or 'what ifs,' they decided to make it more difficult to vote in this election, and runoffs are already really low participation, and this is just going to make this worse."
Arkansas residents can check their voter registration information, see a sample ballot and find polling locations by using the VoterView feature on the secretary of state’s website at www.voterview.ar.
Source: Arkansas Secretary of State