Matt Campbell’s Blue Hog Report concludes that Searcy County didn’t follow the letter of state election law in early voting procedures for a special election to pick a successor to state Rep. David Branscum in District 83.

Only Republicans were on the ballot Feb. 13 and Donald Ragland was the reported winner over Timmy Reid 1,279-1,091.

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According to Blue Hog, the problem was that balloting was held outside the county clerk’s regular office hours, a limit imposed for special elections. Voting was held from 8-6 on six  weekdays and 10-4 on the  Saturday before the election. These hours are allowed for early voting in regular elections. The county also closed the courthouse polling place early on Feb. 6 on account of inclement weather though the statute makes no provision for weather-based poll closing.

The extra hours perhaps made a difference, Blue Hog concludes. 20 percent of registered voters in Searcy County cast ballots, while participation ranged from 3 to 12 percent in nine other counties in the district.

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Campbell is seeking comment from the county clerk and Secretary of State Mark Martin. But today is a holiday.

IRONY ALERT: Mark Martin basked in the reflected glory of the Little Rock Nine this weekend after arranging to get an award for them at the Washington meeting of the national association of secretaries of state. They lauded Martin for his effort. I’ll take it they are unaware of his work both locally and nationally with the Republican Party and, particularly, Kansas’ Kris Kobach to promote vote suppression through voter purge and ballot denial schemes that have harmed poor and minority voters. Also unaware that Arkansas scored in the bottom five of a 50-state survey of ballot security in the states. That his office failed to catch some extended voting in Searcy County is but a footnote to his record.

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