BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Tuesday was the last day Arkansas voters could request an absentee ballot through the mail. Aside from a few hundred misprinted ballots in River Valley counties, the process has gone smoothly thus far. Political scientists said voters have options if they think they have defective ballots.
In Benton County, Communications Director Channing Barker said it’s been a record-breaking year for absentee ballot requests.
“Lots of people are using that as an option,” Barker said.
Aside from one small issue in District 96, the process for sending out the ballots has been incredibly smooth.
“It was a true technical error that was from the absentee ballots,” Barker said. “The paper ballot did not transfer over some of the verbiage.”
The county’s Spring runoffs, which hit right when the pandemic started, prepared election commissioners and officials for what was to come in this election cycle.
“Our facilities management team has gone above and beyond,” Barker said.
In Sebastian and Crawford Counties, misprinted absentee ballots found their way into voters’ hands. The combined total of misprints was fewer than 600, and both counties worked to rectify the situations with new ballots, but some already cast their votes.
“It’s very rare [to see misprints],” said Dr. Brian Calfano, a political analyst. “It’s not impossible to happen, obviously.”
Calfano said the human errors found in the election process aren’t the same as widespread voter fraud.
“It’s a human activity, which means there’s going to be some built-in error that will occur,” Calfano said. “These situations where you’re talking about a few dozen votes determining an election…yeah, it’s a shame.”
Though misprints could theoretically alter the outcome of local races, Dr. Andrew Dowdle, a political scientist for the University of Arkansas, said these River Valley misprints were too few to cause such a problem. He said Arkansans can vote provisionally if they think they received a defective absentee ballot.
“They may want to bring their defective absentee ballot with them,” Dowdle said.
Barker said she’s been impressed with the absentee balloting process in her county, noting much of the credit goes to voters themselves. She said taking the time to understand and follow the directions makes all the difference.
“It’s pretty simple: just sign, make sure you follow the directions, turn it in on time,” Barker said.