But which votes? And when?
A bit of back and forth at the Pulaski County Election Commission office this morning. Poll worker teams are here to prep for counting the 1,602 approved provisional absentee ballots and the 206 “cured” absentee ballots that voters got across the finish line by presenting valid ID to the county clerk before Monday’s noon deadline. That means poll workers are taking the ballots out of the inner envelopes in which they were mailed. Some of them are wrinkled or bent and may need to be remade, which means poll workers would have to recreate the ballot so it can be counted by the machine.
Poll workers were stopped about 20 minutes or so into the action when a request came in from Election Commission Chairperson Evelyn Gomez, who was forwarding a request along from the state Republican party asking to segregate ballots for the two tight state House races (32 and 38). Not clear what they were wanting to do with the segregated ballots, maybe just inspect them more closely.
Regardless, the county attorney advised election workers to continue their work as normal. Gomez cannot unilaterally overturn the commission’s vote that cleared these ballots for counting, Pulaski County elections director Brian Poe explained. The work must go on.
In addition to the cleared absentee ballots being worked on and possibly tabulated today, there are more provisional in-person ballots that the Commission isn’t finished with yet. The county clerk’s office has to pore through those to make sure the voters were eligible (or not). 1,143 of those are rejected, 1,107 are marked as being recommended for counting, 49 need another look and 391 are marked “blank,” which is a mysterious label we haven’t figured out yet. These are all expected to be dealt with Friday.
While Friday is the deadline for oversees ballots to arrive to be tabulated, election commissioners actually have until Nov. 18 to finalize an official vote count.
Hearing reports that Gomez may be calling an emergency meeting about today’s hullabaloo. Stay tuned!