A lawsuit alleging that the Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners was not allowing Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson to do her job controlling early voting was settled Monday afternoon, and the person who filed the lawsuit said he was satisfied with the settlement.

A lawsuit alleging that the Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners was not allowing Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson to do her job controlling early voting was settled Monday afternoon, and the person who filed the lawsuit said he was satisfied with the settlement.


"We got some clarity on some other procedures to ensure confidence of the public on election day," veteran Arkansas legislator and one of two candidates for Jefferson County Judge Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV said.


Wilkins and three other individuals identified as John Doe 1, John Doe 2 and John Doe 3 and sought a temporary restraining order prohibiting members of the election commission, their employees or representatives from "violating state law" by "interfering with, preventing or otherwise prohibiting the county Clerk of Jefferson County, Arkansas from performing her duties and responsibilities as it relate to early voting."


As a part of the settlement agreement, the request for a temporary restraining order was withdrawn as it was deemed "unnecessary to the resolution of the issue herein."


Retired Craighead County Circuit Judge David Lasher was appointed to handle the case after all the circuit judges in Jefferson County withdrew to avoid an appearance of impropriety. The lawsuit named Commission Chairman Mike Adam, Commission Secretary Stu Soffer and Commissioner Cynthia Sims in their official capacities, and Johnson in her official capacity.


"The issue was transparency and integrity in the voting process," Wilkins said.


The lawsuit was filed by Little Rock attorney Jerry Malone and alleged that in previous elections, Johnson preformed all the duties related to early voting, including securing and storing voting machines, electronic voting tabulating devices, used RTL’s, (voter-verified paper audit trails) and other materials.


The lawsuit alleged that on the day early voting started, one or more poll workers said they had been instructed by someone from the election commission to collect the used RTL tapes at the end of each day and deliver them to the election commission office.


As a part of the settlement, both sides agreed that the RTL tapes will be maintained and secured in Johnson’s office and the tapes from Monday, the last day of early voting will remain in the voting machines until the machines are closed by election commission technicians Tuesday at 1 p.m., and then the rolls, along with the printed results from the machines used for early voting, along with other election material will be placed in a sealed container and delivered to the election commission office where the votes will be counted, but the results will not be announced until after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. The settlement agreement said that is the "current practice."


Another part of the settlement, which is said to be "current procedure," after the polls close Tuesday, the voting machines will be closed by the poll workers, the same way the early voting machines were closed, and all the election related materials will be placed in a sealed envelope and signed by anyone present that wants to sign, including poll watchers representing the various candidates, then delivered to the election commission office.


Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter, who represented the commission, worked out the settlement with Malone and with Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris, who was not present Monday. Hunter said he and Malone talked to Harris on a conference call.


Wilkins said people will be present to watch the vote counting to "ensure the integrity of the voting process."


"Mr. Wilkins had some valid concerns but had his campaign attended an orientation on voting machine procedures, they could have answered 95 percent of those concerns," Soffer said.


He also said that despite the number of candidates who were on the primary election ballots, only Wilkins’ campaign questioned the procedures.


"Two of Mr. Wilkins’ entourage are the same two that for the past three years tried to create strife and voter confusion," Soffer said.


Adam said that if the county resorts to the way early voting was formerly conducted, it would "cost the county $20,000 and we would have two and three hour lines of people waiting to vote."