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Pulaski County Absentee Votes Still Being Counted As Tally Continues Nationwide

David Monteith

The results of some down-ballot races from Tuesday’s election could look different as votes continue to be counted in central Arkansas.

The Pulaski County Election Commission is still working to count roughly 4,500 absentee ballots that were rejected by counting equipment or contain irregularities that need resolving.

Election Commissioner Joshua Price says about 1,200 of those ballots either cannot be included in the total or have problems needing to be fixed by voters in order to be counted.

“The bulk of those are provisional absentee ballots that have no ID, but they also didn't sign the verification of identity. So in those cases the voter can bring in their ID by Monday the 9th and then those votes will also be counted,” Price said.

Price says his team will be re-printing and scanning another 1,200 ballots Thursday, and that the commission is working to reach absentee voters who can fix particular mistakes on their ballot for their vote to count.

“That’s another reason why all the absentee ballots aren’t just immediately counted the night of, because if we were to do that, we would have to reject these ballots,” Price said. “There's a lot that don't have the voter statement so we don't know the voter’s name, address, date of birth, we don't know anything.”

Price responded to criticism that the commission waited until Tuesday night to begin canvassing the roughly 25,000 absentee ballots it received, saying the count began well before the polls closed.

“We had 84 poll workers only processing absentee ballots since October 19, and we were itching to get that process started because we had so many absentee ballots coming in. But by law, and this is according to the governor's executive order and I want to stress that, the inner ballot envelope could not be opened until Election Day,” Price said.

In her concession speech to U.S. Rep. French Hill, Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott had accused the commission of leaving thousands of absentee ballots uncanvassed until polls closed Tuesday evening.

The as-of-yet uncounted ballots could impact the outcome of some closer races for seats in the state House and on the Little Rock School Board. Unofficial results show incumbent Rep. Carlton Wing (R-North Little Rock) roughly 100 votes ahead of Democratic challenger Matthew Stallings in the District 38 race. A similar gap exists in the race between District 32 Rep. Jim Sorvillo (R-Little Rock) and Democrat Ashley Hudson.

Election commissioners will vote Monday evening whether to reject or accept the absentee ballots currently under review. Final results from Election Day will be certified on Nov. 15.

Daniel Breen is News Director for UA Little Rock Public Radio.
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