The Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners on Thursday unanimously voted not to count 73 provisional ballots that were cast for Tuesday’s general election. They accepted only five.
Of the 73, 35 were from students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff that the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office had said were not on the rolls of registered voters in the county.
During the meeting Thursday night at the Election Commission office, Secretary Stuart Soffer said the same thing happened eight years ago when President Barack Obama was running for office for the first time. Students at the university filled out registration forms, but the forms were not filed with the clerk’s office or were filed after the deadline, as was the case this time.
Of the others that the commission said they would not count, many were thrown out because they either cast a ballot at the wrong polling site or were registered in another county.
A letter will be sent to each person whose ballot was rejected and those people will be given the opportunity for a hearing before a final decision is made.
One provisional ballot for a voter who said on the ballot statement that he was a resident of another county but is still registered to vote at an address in Pine Bluff will be referred to the prosecutor for a legal opinion, as will a provisional ballot from a voter who the clerk said also voted an absentee ballot. It is a felony in Arkansas to vote more than once.
Another provisional ballot that the clerk said early voted is being researched. The voter was listed as a “Junior,” and commission officials want to make sure it was not “Senior” who voted early before referring that ballot to prosecutors.
The five provisional ballots that were accepted were counted, as were 11 absentee ballots that the county clerk neglected to provide the voter statements for on election day. The commission will meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. to review 58 questionable absentee ballots.