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Precinct error corrected after going unnoticed for seven years

by David Showers | October 24, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

Fourteen voters assigned to a precinct in city director District 2 who live in District 5 cast ballots during the first two days of early voting for the Nov. 6 election before the error from seven years ago was discovered, county election officials said Tuesday.

Voters in the precinct bound in part by Malvern Avenue to the east, Lowery Street to the north, Leawood Street to the west and Hollywood Avenue to the south are represented by the District 5 director on the seven-member Hot Springs Board of Directors, but the District 2 race was on their ballots in the 2014 and 2018 general elections.

The inconsistency stems from the redrawing of the county election map by the Garland County Election Commission in 2011 to reflect population changes recorded during the 2010 Census, the Garland County clerk's office said.

County Clerk Sarah Smith said 241 registered voters live in the affected area that includes the Huntleigh Drive neighborhood, Indiandale Apartments and an assisted living facility. It is bordered by District 2 to the northwest and District 1 to the northeast.

Smith said the election commission incorrectly assigned the area to District 2 during redistricting, but that all of the area's other political subdivisions are accurate. None of the county's current election commissioners were on the three-person panel during redistricting.

"It was a precinct assignment error," she said, explaining that the city of Hot Springs alerted her office to the problem Tuesday morning.

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Lance Spicer said District 5 Director Karen Garcia informed him Monday night that voters in the Huntleigh Drive area were given ballots with the District 2 race.

The error went unnoticed during the 2014 election. According to results certified by the commission, incumbent Elaine Jones defeated Willie McCoy by 26 votes that year to retain her District 2 seat, outpolling him 478-452. District 5 candidate Rick Ramick was unopposed.

The commission said affected voters are now being given ballot style No. 7 instead of No. 12, which incorrectly included the District 2 race between Jones, Billy Blackmon and LeDante Walker Sr. Ballot style No. 7 corresponds to a nearby precinct part and includes the District 5 race between Ramick and Garcia.

There are 65 different ballot styles in the election.

Commission Chairman Gene Haley said the ballot activation card affected voters are issued subsequent to check-in will be spoiled. Poll workers will then manually enter the adjacent precinct part and generate a new card with the correct slate of races.

"We're checking them in so they get credit for voting," he said. "We're spoiling that ballot and reissuing them ballot style (No.7)."

Ballot complaint filed

A Little Rock resident filed a complaint Monday with the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners over Susan Inman's name being left off the ballot in Garland County.

A data entry error had omitted Inman, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, from county ballots when early voting started Monday, the county election commission said. It closed all four early voting locations until the mistake was corrected, but 222 ballots had already been cast.

Little Rock resident Chris Burks filed the complaint. Daniel Shults, the state election board's attorney, said a complainant does not need to live in the area where the action that gave rise to the complaint is alleged to have occurred.

"There just has to be an alleged violation of law," he said, noting that complaints are filed under oath. "There's no jurisdictional requirement."

Local on 10/24/2018

Print Headline: Precinct error corrected after going unnoticed for seven years

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