Several Region 8 Counties Reporting Problems Tallying Votes

MAY 23, 2006 - Posted at 9:01 p.m. CST, updated at 9:13 p.m. CST, updated at 9:5 p.m. CST, updated at 10:28 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR - Polls have been closed across Arkansas for more than three hours as of this writing, but so far no election results have been tabulated in Craighead County.

Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms has told K8 News that there is currently a "glitch" with the new electronic touch-screen voting machines that has prevented election officials from counting votes.  However, Election Commissioner Benton Smith just told K8 news that results could be available by approximately 11:30 p.m.  Smith had more information regarding the problems this evening, explaining that a counter for the new voting machines was incorrectly calibrated.  The counter has since be re-calibrated, and the problem appears to be solved.

Similar problems have been experienced in Lawrence County, which at last report, was preparing to manually count approximately 4,000 ballots.  According to The Associated Press, Lawrence County officials realized they had given voters ballpoint pens and began to overwrite all the ballots again with felt-tipped markers so the machines could read them.

An employee at the county clerk's office in Cross County also now reports tallying problems with ballots cast via touch-screen machines.  K8 News made several calls to the Cross County Clerk's office to obtain results earlier this evening, and on at least three occasions was told to call back in approximately thirty minutes.  However, phones at the clerk's office are now not being answered.

In Jackson County, a county employee told a K8 News reporter that no election returns will be released before midnight.

In Phillips County, similar problems have delayed tabulation of votes.  Phillips County election officials put a note on the courthouse door in Helena-West Helena this evening saying they would be unable to count ballots until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Charlie Daniels has said he'll ask the company Election Systems and Software about problems in fulfilling its $15 million contract with the state.  ES&S is the Nebraska-based company that is providing the state with electronic voting machines.