CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A recount for the Republican primary in House District 25 race was stopped Saturday after it was discovered about 30 absentee ballots were misplaced, according to Bill Coleman, Crawford County election commission chairman.
Republican Chad Puryear won the primary by six votes against Jody Harris. Harris’ campaign asked for the recount after Tuesday’s close election results.
Jody Harris told KNWA/FOX 24 that during Crawford County’s recount she asked the Election Commission Chairman, Bill Coleman, where some of the original absentee ballots were because they were not present at the recount.
“I asked where they were…he told me that they were at his home,” Harris said. “I thought that was very strange that an election commissioner would take original ballots to his home to store them when they had the election commission office with plenty of storage space.”
The specific absentee ballots in question were considered ‘canceled ballots’ meaning the votes from these ballots were transferred to new ballots and then counted because of a programming change that happened after they were first sent out, according to Commission Chairman Coleman.
“The votes had been transferred over to ballots and those ballots, the new ballots have been counted,” Coleman said.
Coleman said because the election commission is in the process of moving locations, they have been working in two different places. So, when Coleman was moving the canceled absentee ballots to the other location, he accidentally left them in his truck at home.
“Transferring them one place to another and just ended up leaving them in my pick-up and going home with me,” Coleman said. “Unfortunately, that should not have happened but there is no security breach as far as the election is concerned because those ballots had been transferred.”
Harris contacted the Secretary of State’s Office. The recount will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. with state election officials present to ensure the recount is done correctly.
House District 25 includes parts of Washington, Crawford and Franklin counties, so a recount will have to happen in each of the counties to determine the results.