The runoff race in the Republican nomination for Faulkner County Sheriff is heating up just days before Election Day.
The secretary of state’s office on Friday requested the Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney’s office investigate complaints of voter intimidation against candidate Rocky Lawrence.
Director of Elections Rob Hammons wrote in a letter to Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland on Friday that the complaints were received on Thursday but did not say who sent the complaints or give specifics.
"The complaints allege that Mr. Lawrence engaged in intimidation of a voter in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-1-104 (5) ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to make any threat or attempt to intimidate any elector or the family, business or profession of the elector.’ The Secretary of State is forwarding the complaints to your office for further review and investigation due to the nature of the allegations and your authority to investigate the matter," the letter reads.
"It’s bogus," Lawrence told the Log Cabin Democrat of the complaints.
Lawrence faces Tim Ryals in the runoff and said he thinks it’s likely the complaints came from Ryals’ supporters.
Lawrence said in an email statement that his opponent’s supporters had created a Facebook page called The Truth About Rocky Lawrence that has since been taken down. Lawrence maintains the page falsely insinuated he had three failed businesses and when he responded, the posts were "immediately deleted."
"Facebook took down the page as harassment and I commend them for it," Lawrence said in the statement.
Ryals said in an email statement that the complaints don’t change his focus or that of his supporters.
"This will not distract our campaign," he wrote. "From now until Tuesday I’ll continue traveling and meeting voters to hear their concerns regarding public safety and the future of our children. I strongly encourage my supporters to do the same."
Regarding the complaints filed, Ryals said he would wait to comment further "on an issue of this magnitude" until the investigation has "run its course to determine the details and gather the facts."
Hiland was unable to comment on when the investigation would be complete.
"I can confirm that the secretary of state’s office forwarded complaints to our office," Hiland said. "Beyond that, I can’t comment."
In the primary election, Ryals received 8,782 votes, which amounted to a little more than 49 percent, while Lawrence garnered 4,604 votes, or nearly 26 percent. Joe Taylor received 4,409 votes in the primary.
Faulkner County Election Coordinator Teresa Horton reported that 1,442 residents voted during the first week of early voting. Early voting continues 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Faulkner County Courthouse in downtown Conway.
Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day, at five locations throughout the county.
In Conway, vote centers will be at the McGee Center on College Avenue and the Don Owen Sports Complex on Lower Ridge Road.
Vote centers will also be at the Greenbrier City Events Center on Lois Lane, the Mayflower City Hall on Ashmore Drive and the Vilonia First Baptist Church on Main Street. Voting will not be conducted at the courthouse or the library on Election Day.
Residents who voted in the Democratic primary are not allowed to vote in runoff election. All other registered voters in the county are eligible to vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted in the March 1 primary election.
The winner of the Republican nomination will face Democrat Wefus K. Tyus Jr. in the Nov. 8 general election.
(Assistant managing editor Jeanette Anderton can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)