COUNTING ABSENTEES: Pulaski County election workers this morning.

You can watch the process of duplicating and counting a reported 1,200 absentee ballots that couldn’t be read by the counting machine election day at the Pulaski County Election Commission.

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Their notice:

The Pulaski County Election Commission will be conducting a ballot duplication process in order to replace and tabulate defective and damaged ballots cast during the November 3, 2020 General Election at the Jeffrey Hawkins Conference Room in the Pulaski County Regional Building beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2020.  The process, as provided for in ACA 7-5-615,  will be performed by sworn election officials and will continue until complete.  Media and representatives of campaigns and political parties are welcome, as well as the public.   Space limitations and strict physical distancing may limit the number of individuals admitted.  All individuals attending will be required to wear a facemask while present and are subject to temperature scans prior to entering the building.  Anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be admitted.   The proceedings will be livestreamed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv_zMRSbHVzg08qLm2v-1gQ .

As we reported yesterday, the Commission has work to do on a number of other ballots.

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About 3,000 ballots have validity questions and are being reviewed to see whether they qualify for counting or if there are discrepancies that voters can “cure” by going to election offices by Monday. But first voters must know there’s a problem with a ballot.

Election Commissioner Kristi Stahr provided this answer to my question last night about who will do notification and when.

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The advocacy group For AR People is seeking to get names of voters whose ballots have been set aside (several apparently were improperly put aside for lack of photo ID though voters had taken the alternate step of swearing to their identity by signature) in hopes of helping the cure process.

All eligible votes SHOULD count, of course, though the outcome is most likely academic in Pulaski County. Interest is high in two legislative races with margins barely over 100 votes and perhaps some races with runoff potential.

UPDATE: Good information from Election Commissioner Josh Price.

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Pulaski County received about 25,000 absentee ballots, six times the number in 2016.

It counted 20,277 election night.

4,700 were not counted.

1,200 were not counted because the machine couldn’t read them. This could mean they were crumpled, marked with highlighters or other markings difficult to read. These are being duplicated today and will be added to the count Monday.

Of the remaining 3,500, about 2,000 were set aside for review because they didn’t have a photo ID. But, on review by the Commission, all these were found to have the proper signature attesting to the validity of the ballot

So these 2,000 will be counted Monday.

That left 1,500 ballots uncounted. The Election Commission reviewed these further and approved 280 of them. That left 1,220. Some of these cannot be cured because voters either didn’t include the voter statement with their ballot or didn’t sign the voter statement. These are uncurable flaws under Arkansas election law.  A significant number of the 1,220 fell in this category.

The rest of the 1,220 provisional ballots perhaps can be cured. For example, a voter who failed to include a photo ID and didn’t attest to his or her signature can bring a photo ID to the Election Commission by Monday and have the ballot count. Other problems might be discrepancies in names or addresses. Voters can make a case for counting their ballots by Monday as well.

How will they know their ballot hasn’t been counted? The election commission and county clerk’s office have employees working to reach those with fixable ballots, using phone numbers and email where available and mailing letters today where they are not. Clearly it is late in the game.

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But Price said all are working as hard as possible to count as many of the absentees as possible.

Bottom line: Of the 4,700 uncounted absentees election day, a minimum of 3,480 will be added to the county total when the Election Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

UPDATE: For AR People has a list of about 500 people with curable ballots. They must get to the county clerk or Election Commission by Monday. Bring a photo ID to be sure.

UPDATE II: The Election Commission also has 2,700 provisional ballots cast early or election day. The clerk is reviewing those to be sure most are registered voters (electronic poll books weren’t fully updated apparently.) A majority are expected to be approved. Update: the precise number is 2,464.

So we now are talking about the potential addition of maybe 6,000 votes to Pulaski’s total. So things COULD CHANGE.

Military and overseas ballots also have until next Friday to be counted.

 

UPDATE: the county clerk is reportedly setting up a mobile checkpoint for those who want to cure ballots that lacked photo IDs.