A grassroots group is asking for answers from the Pulaski County Election Commission on some 4,000 absentee ballots not included in the election results.

We reported last night that these ballots had been set aside during the process to match absentee applications with vote packets — name, address, birthdate, signature, photo ID or attestation signature.

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The review, or canvass, of these votes, lasted into election night. Errors in absentee votes are not uncommon and can be the reason for disqualification, though the Election Commission can certify some for counting on review.

A group, For AR People, wants more information. Its news release:

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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.

 

I’m seeking more information.

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Noted: These ballots are unlikely to alter the outcome in the high-profile 2nd District congressional race, even if all were cast for Joyce Elliott. But some tight races, including two for legislature, and others headed to runoffs could well be affected.

UPDATE: some background from selection Commissioner Josh Price:

 

The ballots that need to be remade will be processed tomorrow by teams of two poll workers while being observed by poll watchers. This process will also be made open to the public and via online streaming video.
The absentee ballots that were irregular (missing information that prevents them from being legally counted on Election Day and hence require more review) are currently being processed. The meeting where the Pulaski County Election Commission approves/rejects the absentee and provisional ballots is on Monday, Nov. 9.
The final certification of the election will be on Nov. 13, because by law we must wait 10 days after the election to allow for overseas and military ballots to arrive and be counted.

I’ve asked for a count of the two categories of ballots.

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The Democratic Party also weighed in:

 

The ballots that need to be remade will be processed tomorrow by teams of two poll workers while being observed by poll watchers. This process will also be made open to the public and via online streaming video.
The absentee ballots that were irregular (missing information that prevents them from being legally counted on Election Day and hence require more review) are currently being processed. The meeting where the Pulaski County Election Commission approves/rejects the absentee and provisional ballots is on Monday, Nov. 9. The final certification of the election will be on Nov. 13, because by law we must wait 10 days after the election to allow for overseas and military ballots to arrive and be counted.
UPDATE: Here’s more on the situation from For AR People. It includes the process on the 1,200 ballots that wouldn’t count, but that leaves about 3,500 with validity questions and the three-person commission is going through these. In theory, people who can fix lack of an ID, for example, are supposed to be notified so they may do so. How this is going to get done by the three-member commission is a good question and For AR People has asked to be allowed to help. The group made this graphic: