Officials miss almost 900 votes
Thumb drive overlooked; election outcomes not affected
ROGERS — Benton County election officials failed to count almost 900 votes Tuesday night because of an overlooked computer thumb drive.
Kim Dennison with the Election Commission said no election outcomes were affected by the missing votes, which were from the Centro Cristiano de Rogers church on First Street.
The thumb drive was found Wednesday at the bottom of a bag brought in from the vote center location Tuesday night. In all, 897 votes were missed.
“It simply got overlooked,” Dennison said Thursday.
Russell Anzalone, chairman of the Election Commission, stressed Thursday the results provided Tuesday night were unofficial.
“We try to do everything possible to make sure every vote is counted,” Anzalone said. “Sometimes, you don’t catch everything. Something fell through the cracks, yes it did.”
Dennison took the election tape, a printout of all votes cast at the location, and added the numbers to see if any races changed.
Dennison said Christie Craig, a Democrat running for the Arkansas House District 96 seat held by Rep. Grant Hodges, was looking at precinct by precinct numbers on the state election website and noticed the numbers from that area of Rogers seemed low. Craig contacted the Election Commission.
Hodges beat Craig by 5,349 votes (68 percent) to Craig’s 2,496 votes (32 percent). Craig picked up 334 votes at the missed site and Hodges got 252 votes.
Craig said she studied the area in the leadup to the election because she lives about 2 miles from Centro Cristiano, which is her precinct. On election day, the turnout seemed low to her and that’s when she started to look at the state website.
“These are my neighbors,”
she said Thursday. “I knew this wasn’t going to flip the election, but it was important that all the votes be counted.”
In the Ward 1, Position 1 Rogers City Council race, Mandy McDonald Brashear added 292 votes cast for her. She had 6,519 votes (47 percent). Shawn Wright had 155 votes at that site. He was in second place with 2,855 votes (21 percent). Clint Hopper had 76 votes cast for him and Rick Stocker got 66 at that location. Hopper was third and Stocker was fourth in Tuesday’s voting.
Nothing can be done with the thumb drive until 4 p.m. today when the commission meets in Rogers. Preliminary and unofficial votes will then be amended, Dennison said. Provisional ballots also will be counted today. The commission is still waiting for overseas military ballots to arrive, Dennison said.
“It will all sort out at the end,” Anzalone said.
In Benton County, 76,862 people, or 48 percent of the registered voters, voted in Tuesday’s midterm.
Election results will be certified next Friday.