At least seven Faulkner County voters’s ballots had the wrong Justice of the Peace district.
Faulkner County Election Commissioner Chair Paul Foster called an emergency meeting Thursday to address the problem that concerned JP Districts 4 and 5.
“There’s some confusion in District 4 and District 5. One street, Orchid Street, was placed electronically into JP District 4 [instead of District 5],” Foster said.
He said there are seven registered voters on Orchid Street whose ballots should have included District 5 and instead included District 4.
“Seven people voted on that street — six of them voted erroneously for JP District 4. Once it was corrected, the seventh one voted a correct ballot once we found out about it,” he said. “We want to get this all straightened out.”
Jerrie Rene Henderson, the Democratic candidate for District 4 Justice of the Peace who lost to incumbent Jim Houston, attended the meeting and asked if this could affect that race.
Foster said that Districts 4 and 5 would both be reviewed but noted the outcomes in those races were unlikely to change.
“Is it going to change the outcome of either election? I don’t think so,” Foster said.
In District 4, Republican Jim Houston won by 565 votes. In District 5, Republican Rose “Rosie” Roland won by 280 votes.
Linda Tyler, former state legislator and Faulkner County Democratic Party member, said it would be prudent to verify addresses in all of the JP districts, noting that she was contacted by one voter whose ballot listed JP District 13 but her voter’s registration card indicated JP District 12.
“We know we had at least one street, maybe two streets or more, that were coded incorrectly in the wrong district,” Tyler said, urging officials to “audit all the coded districts — every single address.”
Election Coordinator Teresa Horton said: “We’re in the process of that.”
The election commission took no action Thursday at Foster’s recommendation. Foster explained that neither County Attorney David Hogue, Election Commissioner Ken Fairless nor either of the two candidates from the District 5 race could attend the meeting, which was called two hours before. Instead, the commission will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom A of the Faulkner County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.
“We can’t do a complete overhaul by Monday,” Darter said, but added that a review of Districts 4 and 5 will be complete before the commission meets on Tuesday. Initially, the meeting was set for 10 a.m. Monday but the courthouse will be closed in observance of Veterans Day so it was pushed to 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Faulkner County resident Genevle Acklin said two people who told him they voted in the District 5 JP race were not included on the list of people who had.
Foster explained it’s common for voters to not remember which district they voted in, who was on the ballot, etc. although he noted “it is the responsibility of the voter to check that before they come in to vote.”
Acklin said he accepted that explanation in most cases; however, he said the two people had turned out to vote, in large part, because they wanted to vote for Wright.
If their ballots didn’t have Wright listed, they would have noticed and reported it, Acklin said.
“That’s why the confidence level [is shaken],” he said. “I think it may raise a bigger issue.”
All the election officials present at the meeting said there’s no way that could have happened. Horton added that the logic and accuracy test proved District 4 got the six erroneous votes.