The Jefferson County Election Commission on Tuesday accepted and counted 46 absentee ballots, although many of them could have been disallowed because of administrative errors.
Commissioner Stuart Soffer, who is also the Republican Party designee on the State Board of Election Commissioners, said during the meeting that he had been trying for over four years to have an Absentee Ballot Procedures Guide published by the Secretary of State’s Office, but so far, that has not happened. Soffer said the proposed guide has been in final draft form for two years but there have been other priorities.
“These absentee ballot issues are not unique to Jefferson County, and as long as there is no procedure manual for clerks to follow, voters are going to pay the price,” he said. “How a deputy clerk can issue an absentee ballot to someone whose application does not contain a date of birth is beyond me since that is one of four key comparison items for an absentee ballot to be counted.”
The decision to accept the ballots was made by all three commissioners after agreeing that voters should not be penalized because of processing mistakes in the county clerk’s office.
Twelve absentee ballots were not counted, primarily because signatures did not match, Soffer said.
In other business, the commission unanimously agreed not to count three ballots. Letters will be sent to those voters affording them an opportunity for a hearing on Friday. One was a provisional ballot from a resident in Pulaski County that had previously been referred to the prosecutor for an opinion.
A second was from a first-time voter who failed to provide identification, while a third was not registered to vote. That person will be contacted, and if they can show that they were registered, their vote will be counted.
Three provisional ballots that were initially rejected because the voter voted at the wrong poll site were allowed after it was determined that the ballot style was the same as it would have been at their assigned polling place.
Also, since Humphrey is split between Jefferson and Arkansas counties, state law provides that the county with the population majority oversees elections. The 2010 census showed that a majority of Humphrey’s residents live in Jefferson County.
Adding the results of voting in the two counties resulted in the following:
Ward 1, Position 1
Donald Combs 115
Michael (Porky) Hughes 102
Ward 2, Position 2
Eddie White 113
James Carr Jr. 102
Recall of the Humphrey Mayor
All the vote totals are unofficial until certified Nov. 21.