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Lawsuit challenging state's ballot-counting machines thrown out by circuit court judge

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, John Lynch | September 11, 2023 at 5:18 p.m.
Marie Chandler of Bentonville votes in the 34th precinct in the non-presidential primaries Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at First Baptist Church near the square in Bentonville. Chandler said she voted for Blanche Lincoln in the senate race. "She's done more for the state than John Paul Hammerschmidt," she said.

An eight-month-old lawsuit challenging the legality of Arkansas’ ballot-counting machines was thrown out of court on Monday after the plaintiff’s attorney said he could not show that the system has ever misrepresented a vote.

At issue was whether the barcode-based system allows voters “to verify in a private and independent manner the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast” as described in Arkansas Code 7-5-504, which sets the standards for machine operations under the state Election Code.

Dismissing the lawsuit, Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled that the system does provide that verification opportunity as required by law because voters are given printed ballots to cast once they’ve selected their choices from the computer system.

“This format completely and totally complies with that [language],” he said. “They [voters] got to look at that information. The voter has been given the opportunity to confirm their ballot.”

The law is “clear and unambiguous” so the question comes down to either yes, the system complies with the law, or no, it does not, the judge said.

“This is the crux of the lawsuit,” Fox said. “I am ruling that … this mechanism gives the voter the opportunity to verify in a private and independent manner the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast.”

Conrad Reynolds of Conway, head of the lobbying group Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative, filed the lawsuit in December.. Reynolds’ group has been advocating for Arkansas counties to switch to hand-marked and hand-counted ballots


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