Meadows congratulates Presley after commission announces results

Meadows congratulates Presley after commission announces results
Garry Meadows congratulates Jeff Presley on win (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
Election commission answers questions (Source: KAIT)
Election commission answers questions (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Those waiting on election results Tuesday night in Craighead County spent hours without any update from the election commission.

For Jeff Presley and Garry Meadows, the two candidates vying for the Republican ticket on the Craighead County Judge race, they wouldn't receive word on the outcome of their race until 2:30 Wednesday afternoon.

Ultimately, it was determined that Jeff Presley won with 50.11% of the vote.

The Craighead County Election Commission met at that time to discuss the outcome of the race. They also addressed questions about why they didn't report updates of precinct by precinct numbers.

Election Commission Chair Jeanette Robertson said a computer glitch in the election software caused them to hold the numbers until they had all of the precincts counted.

"The software has difficulty with more than one precinct being on multiple flash cards," Robertson said.

Robertson explained that a state law passed in 2013 caused some Craighead County precincts to have multiple polling locations.

"The Secretary of State's office set up a procedure for all counties in Arkansas to follow when they were tabulating results on the software we use," Robertson said.

Robertson said that procedure "compromised the processing of the votes."

Robertson gave a hypothetical situation to explain the issue.

"When the first polling place was read in, the flash card was read in for precinct #5, the computer accepted it," Robertson said. "The next time we put in a precinct that had precinct #5, it would say 'Do you want to replace it or not use it.'"

Robertson said they were given no option to simply add the votes.

"The software conflicted and sometimes it would suppress some of the votes. Not all of them, but some of them," Robertson said.

Robertson said neither the election commission nor ES&S, the company they use for election equipment and software, knew this was a problem.

"We were not going to release results until we either corrected the discrepancy or understood what caused it," Robertson said. "That's not fair to the candidates. Because everybody wants to have the information is not a good enough reason to put out inaccurate results."

Robertson said now that they know where the problem lies, it shouldn't cause issues again.

"We know now the correct procedure that will allow us to correctly add the information together in the software program in itself," Robertson said.

The Election Commission anticipates getting new voting equipment and software sometime this year. However, Robertson said it likely won't be in place before Jonesboro's special election in May to fill Tim McCall's vacant city council seat and the property maintenance code.

As for Meadows, who lost by just 24 votes, he told Region 8 News that he does not plan to contest the results.

"I have no intention to challenge it. It was extremely close. I think our election commission had a glitch in the computer. We've had those a lot in my life so I have no reason to contend it," Meadows said.

Presley said he now plans to hit the ground running in his campaign against Democrat and incumbent, County Judge Ed Hill.

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