FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Austin Bailey
November 4, 2020
Tell the Pulaski County Election Commission: Count Every Vote
The Pulaski County Election Commission must do their duty and count every vote. Commissioners certified unofficial vote totals knowing that 6,000+ votes have not been counted.
It appears the outcomes of several Pulaski County races could be determined by these yet-to-be counted ballots.
“It’s frustrating that we still don’t know why these ballots were pulled aside and what will happen next,” said Camille Bennett, an attorney and voter protection coordinator with For AR People.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re having to come down here to the Election Commission headquarters to do this,” she said. “Information about why these ballots were being withheld from the counting process should be readily available to the public. Because the commission has refused to make this information available, we’re using the only means at our disposal to try to find out why these ballots haven’t been counted.”
This holdup was absolutely avoidable. Thousands of ballots awaited the review of the commission the past two weeks, yet Commissioners did not meet until after polls closed on election night.
Election Commissioners in other Arkansas counties checked in ballots in real time so voters could have the opportunity to fix problems. In Union County, for example, Election Commissioners were contacting voters last week if their mail-in ballots didn’t include a photocopy of valid ID. Those voters had the opportunity to deliver ID and have their votes counted.
Last night, For AR People learned that approximately 4,500 “green sheeted” votes were outstanding. Ballots marked as irregular are tagged with a green sheet that states why the ballot is flagged. These “green-sheet ballots” then are placed into review for correction.
A variety of factors can cause a ballot irregularity. Some factors require very little scrutiny by the Election Commission and can be easily approved, moving these votes from provisional to counted. Instead of first reviewing the easily approved ballots, the Commission began review of ballots least likely to count. It appears that the commission is intentionally neglecting its duties and delaying this process to disenfranchise voters.
After midnight on Nov. 4, the Commission announced that there are 1,200 ballots that require attention because the ballot machine would not take them. Similar to a vending machine not taking a torn dollar bill, these ballots require replication and re-printing for the ballot machine to accept them. The Commission conceded that these ballots should have been counted before 7:30pm on Election Day but were not.
Despite having a staff of well-trained and experienced employees, the Commission insisted on doing the ballot matching work itself, resulting in thousands of votes not being counted.
Twenty five percent of the absentee ballots received in Pulaski County fall within the categories of “green-sheeted” irregular ballots or ballots the machine didn’t accept. In addition to these flagged absentee ballots, the commission has yet to address votes of those individuals who cast provisional ballots in-person. For AR People is working to ensure every eligible vote is counted.
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About For AR People: Arkansas’s state motto is “The People Rule.” But for too long, many of our state politicians have been operating in the shadows, prioritizing interests of the wealthy and powerful over interests of the people. They put partisanship and deep-pocket campaign donors ahead of us, the voters.
This is our state. We are fighting back.
For AR People is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advances a responsible democracy in Arkansas by educating the public about issues that impact our daily lives and holding politicians accountable. We provide opportunities for Arkansans to speak up for their values – like transparency and accountability in state government – and build a stronger state that works for everyone.