Hoxie Voters Express Anger

February 11, 2003
Posted at: 10:00 p.m. CST

HOXIE, Ark. -- Hoxie voters are still trying to get the mayoral election they feel they didn't get after a November 26th runoff.

Jeff Brady defeated incumbent Paul Hendrix by one vote in the runoff election. Initially Brady led by a three-vote margin. A recount, and a subsequent hand recount, set the final count at Brady winning by a single vote, a total that was certified as final.

The interesting thing is after all of that, Brady still didn't win. Hendrix filed a lawsuit questioning how absentee ballot applications and absentee votes were handled, claiming Brady and some voters didn't follow proper procedures.

A Lawrence County circuit judge threw out the 224 absentee ballots cast in the runoff after both Brady and Hendrix stipulated that the ballots were improper. The decision made Hendrix the winner.

Hoxie residents expressed their anger over the absentee ballot ruling, and that their names were listed in Hendrix' lawsuit, at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Theresa Price and Marty Harris spent Tuesday evening the same way they have most nights and weekends since February 6th: Trying to get a new mayoral election.

"I feel like rights have been violated," Price said.

"A judge, two lawyers, and two candidates decided the election," Harris said. "That's not fair to citizens."

"Two 18-year-old girls won't vote again because of this," Betty Tyler said. "It was like their vote didn't matter."

Both Hendrix and Brady's campaigns protested absentee ballots cast in the runoff. On December 12, the applications for those ballots were released to each campaign. In the lawsuit Hendrix filed to overturn the vote, the names of people that cast improper absentee ballots for Brady were listed, in addition to the errors made in filing the absentee ballot applications.

When questioned at Tuesday's council meeting, the only response Mayor Hendrix gave to voters' questions about the lawsuit and why their names are listed was, "Ask Mr. Brady."

When K8 News asked Hendrix the same question his response: "I have no further comment. Thank you."

If an elected state official contacts the Attorney General in writing, an investigation into the voting irregularities of the mayor's race can begin. Council member Rick Myers says he has contacted local State Representative Don House.

"It is not who the mayor is," Myers said. "The fact is people didn't get to choose. People are saying they won't vote again. That's the worst thing they can do."

Voters like Price and Harris have a lot of work still ahead of them, but they think they have a good chance at getting what they feel they deserve: Another election.

"(That's) because both candidates agreed the election wasn't done in strict compliance of law," Price said.

Price and Harris are trying to get 10 percent of the 1,500 registered voters to sign a petition asking for a reconsideration of the court order. So far, they have about a hundred. They're also gathering complaint forms to file with the State Board of Election Commissioners. Their deadline to file an appeal is February 26.