Northwest Arkansas officials certify votes from Nov. 8 election, look ahead to runoffs

(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

Benton and Washington county election officials on Friday certified the results of the Nov. 8 general election. Overseas and provisional ballots counted after Election Day did not change the outcomes of any races.

It turned out there was one race in Benton County, however, where one vote made a difference.

That was in the Bentonville School Board Zone 5 race, which is going to a runoff election on Dec. 6. As of the end of election night, second-place finisher Letisha Hinds had a four-vote lead over third-place finisher Yoselin Bolivar. The final tally showed Hinds prevailing over Bolivar, 1,927 to 1,926.

Hinds advances to a runoff with Tatum Aicklen, who collected 41% of the vote to Hinds' 30%.

Benton County saw 91,522 votes cast, a turnout of just over 50%. The county has 181,382 registered voters.

The Benton County Election Commission did two hand recounts for mayoral races in Centerton and Highfill on Monday. The recounts did not change any results.

Bill Edwards received 48% of the vote to earn his fourth term as Centerton mayor. He won because he was more than 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest competitor, Michael Commet, who received 19% of the vote, according to final results. Commet requested a recount, for which he was charged $1,365.

In Highfill, Chris Holland won the mayor's race by a 290-288 vote count over Jeremy Rogers. Rogers requested a recount that cost him $150. Holland will replace Michelle Rieff, who did not seek reelection.

"We were very, very satisfied with the recount," said Russ Anzalone, commission chairman. "We don't discourage people asking for a recount."

The three-member commission also processed 461 provisional ballots Monday, accepting 65. Reasons for rejection ranged from people registered to vote in another county, people not registered to vote or people who registered to vote after the deadline.

The commission reviewed and approved the runoff election ballot and an order to appoint election officials for the runoff.

Benton County will have eight runoff races on Dec. 6, including Bella Vista mayor and three seats on the Bella Vista City Council.

The mayoral race is between Randy Murray and council member John D. Flynn. The Ward 1, Position 2 race is between Donna Hutchinson and Wendy Hughes. The Ward 2, Position 2 spot is between council member Larry Wilms and Wynn Peterson and the Ward 3, Position 2 race features Julie A. Yandell and Craig Honchell.

Also up for grabs is the Ward 3, Position 1 seat on the Rogers City Council between council member W. Clay Kendall and Rachel Crawford, and the Springdale City Council Ward 3, Position 1 seat between incumbent Brian Powell and Alice Gachuzo-Colin. Part of the Springdale ward lies in Benton County.

For Bentonville School Board, in addition to the Zone 5 runoff, there's also a runoff election for the Zone 3 seat between Jeremy Farmer and Blanca Maldonado.

Washington County

According to information compiled by Jennifer Price, executive director for the Washington County Election Commission, there were 71,522 ballots cast in the election and 71,132 ballots counted. The county has 142,610 registered voters, meaning the county's voter turnout was just under 50%.

Most Washington County voters participated in early voting for the Nov. 8 election, with 35,982 votes cast during the two-week early voting period and 34,030 cast on Election Day, according to a report Price compiled.

Price told the commission there were 330 ballots flagged as "provisional" ballots, with 228 of those being questioned when the voter didn't appear as registered in the county's poll books. Another 58 were marked as provisional when the voter failed to meet the identification requirements and 13 were marked as provisional because the voter already had been sent an absentee ballot. Of those 330 provisional ballots, the county eventually accepted 42 when it was found the voter met all of the requirements.

Price said the county received 1,251 absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election, of which 131 were rejected when the voter failed to meet any of the requirements, including failing to return a voter statement, omitting their birth date, not signing the voter statement or not having comparable signatures on the ballot and voter statement.

There will be two runoff elections in Washington County on Dec. 6: the Farmington mayoral race and the Springdale City Council Ward 3, Position 1 race.

In the Farmington race, incumbent Ernie Penn faces Diane Bryant. In the Nov. 8 voting, Penn received 1,372 votes (50%) to Bryant's 867 (31%). Jerrod Fraley received 521 votes (19%).

In the Springdale race -- combining results from both counties -- Powell received 4,841 votes (36%) and Gachuzo-Colin received 3,554 votes (26%). Rick Culver received 3,203 votes (24%) and Mike Stevens received 2,021 (15%).

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Runoff elections

Runoff elections will be Dec. 6. Early voting runs 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 and Dec. 5.

In Washington County, early voting will be at the county clerk’s office, Suite 300, 280 N. College Ave., Fayetteville.

In Benton County, early voting will be at the county clerk’s offices at 215 E. Central Ave., Suite 217, Bentonville, and 2111 W. Walnut St., Rogers.

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette