Benton County ballot discrepancy cause concerns

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"They may think, 'well I already voted for House District 96, so do I get to vote again?'"

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BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Five words didn’t transfer over from the Benton County sample ballot to the electronic ballot voters actually see, which caused some to raise an eyebrow.

It was just very very confusing. It looks like the District 96 race is unopposed to Jill Bryant, was the impression that I got as a voter.

JUSTIN SAPPINGTON, BENTON COUNTY EARLY VOTER

One of the candidates running in District 96 is sure to win, but only to finish out the current term that ends in a few months.

Not everyone casting their ballot will know that though.

I received like two or three different texts saying what is this, what’s going on, this is wrong. I was taken a little bit off guard by it.

JON COMSTOCK, (D) DISTRICT 96 CANDIDATE

In Benton County, District 96 is on your ballot twice.

DISTRICT 96

That’s because the seat was left vacant when former representative Grant Hodges resigned to take a job with Northwest Arkansas Community College.

He was hired back in June to be the Executive Director of Community and Government Relations.

So on your ballot, you will be voting on who should fill the remainder of Hodges’s term, and then you need to pick who will serve the next term.

Republican Jill Bryant is the only candidate listed to fill Hodges’s term ending in December.

In this case, no other opponent, democrat, or otherwise, came forward, so she is now on the ballot by herself.

JOSHUA BRYANT, (R) DISTRICT 96 CANDIDATE

She would only be a state representative for about six weeks, but her husband could take over for her.

After voting for that term, you will also need to vote on who will serve the next term, which appears after you click next on the electronic ballot.

Then, you’ll see both Bryant and Jon Comstock’s names listed to be voted for.

That wasn’t made clear for some early voters, because the phrase “Term To Expire On December 31, 2020,” which was on the sample ballot, did not appear on the electronic ballot.

SAMPLE BALLOT

Democrat Jon Comstock, who’s running to serve the next term against Republican Joshua Bryant, sent a press release Tuesday, October 20, to alert voters.

Jon Comstock wants everyone voting in the House District 96 race to be aware of a misleading discrepancy in the Ballot they will be given to vote (and which may have already misled Early Voting citizens).

The Sample Ballot published by the Benton County Election Commission and Secretary of State told voters that there would be two voting decisions to be made for House District 96.

First Voting Decision: Since the incumbent Grant Hodges resigned before the term of office had expired, Jill Bryant is listed as a Republican candidate for House District 96. On the Sample Ballot, potential voters are clearly told that her “Term To Expire On December 31, 2020”. Erroneously, this notification is NOT published as part of the electronic ballot that voters actually see. When voters first attempt to vote for House District 96, they ONLY see Jill Bryant’s name and they do NOT see the expiration date of her term of office, potentially causing some voters to conclude that they had no other choice and not understanding why they did not see Jon Comstock’s name on the ballot.

Second Voting Decision: Only if voters are willing to go to the next selection decision do they see the House District 96 race for the term that starts January 2, 2021, between Jon Comstock, Democrat, and Joshua Bryant, Republican.

Our Campaign has lodged a complaint with the Benton County Election Commission and we understand they are currently reviewing the situation. We will update as soon as we know more. For now, please be ALERT to the need to go to the second selection choice for House District 96 and vote for A Better Way to Govern. Vote Jon Comstock for House District 96!

HOUSE DISTRICT 96 CANDIDATE JON COMSTOCK ISSUES BALLOT ALERT

Benton County Communications Director Channing Barker said this was due to a technical glitch.

As soon as it was brought to the Benton County Election Commission‘s attention, a piece of bright pink paper explaining the discrepancy was placed at each voter booth.

“We have over 330 ballot styles, so sometimes things like this happen unfortunately,” she said.

KNWA/FOX 24 asked what this means for the early voters from Monday, October 19.

Channing said the election commission is keeping a close eye on any disparities that could change the results in the District 96 race.

“We will speak with the candidates and find some sort of compromise or resolution before [the] certification of results,” she said.

It’s an issue that’s been resolved, but the lasting effects it had are still unknown.

I feel there is no integrity loss in the system and I feel like every voter will have a choice in District 96.

JOSHUA BRYANT, (R) DISTRICT 96 CANDIDATE

We live in a county where elections are decided by less than five votes on occasion. So, this is a significant issue.

JON COMSTOCK, (D) DISTRICT 96 CANDIDATE

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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