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2 Arkansas counties list wrong first name for Senate hopeful

2022-02-22-Jake_Bequette-1607-cropped1500.jpg
Michael Hibblen
/
KUAR News
Republican Jake Bequette fills out paperwork on Feb. 22, 2022 to run in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Arkansas Senate candidate Jake Bequette filed a lawsuit Tuesday after two counties incorrectly listed his first name as “Jack” on their ballots for this month’s Republican primary election, with early voting already underway.

Attorneys for Bequette, who’s challenging two-term GOP Sen. John Boozman, asked a judge to order state and local election officials to correct the typo on the ballots in Craighead County. An attorney for Bequette said he planned to add Phillips County, which also listed the wrong first name for Bequette, to the lawsuit.

The chair of the Craighead County Election Commission did not return a call Tuesday afternoon. Early voting began Monday for the state’s May 24 primary.

Bequette is one of three candidates challenging Boozman in the Republican Senate primary. Conservative activist Jan Morgan and Stuttgart pastor Heath Loftis are also seeking the GOP nomination.

“It’s disgusting, and it should be fixed immediately,” Bequette said in a statement. The lawsuit asks the judge to order officials to “provide uniform statewide notice to all voters” of the error.

Secretary of State John Thurston said Bequette’s name was correct on the certified list of candidates his office sent to each county, but that Craighead County made an error during preparation of the ballot. Thurston said his office contacted Craighead County on April 28 to alert them they had the wrong first name for Bequette on their ballot.

“We strongly advised them to correct the ballot as there was still ample time,” Thurston said in a statement. “We also alerted the county that Arkansas code requires a county to hold a public meeting to explain the error, give a solution to the error, or explain why the error can’t be fixed. The county failed to comply in both cases.”

Thurston said it had discovered the same error on Phillips County’s ballot on Friday and that the county was “working to rectify the situation.” Harold Boals, the Phillips County Election Commission chairman, said it was his understanding the mistake was made by the state but declined to comment further.