Election Count Run Longs In Some Counties

Craighead and Lawrence County, AR--New systems, new problems. Counties across the state including at least 5 here in region 8 experienced delays with last night's election. It caused some residents across the area to stay up late to find out the results on some key races.

"It goes back to the failure of the vendor to supply us the machines in a timely fashion. I think that was the biggest issue we had," said Benton Smith, Chairman of Craighead County Election Commission.

Election Systems and Software were behind on getting ballots out and when they finally came in Craighead County officials had to scramble to get a proper scanner set up in time for Election Day.

"We tested it for the first time Saturday. It worked fine. Tested it Monday, it worked fine. Of course when we started counting the early vote it didn't work," said Smith.

The delay came when ES&S technicians had to recalibrate the scanner to scan the ballots. While covering elections across the state, the company in charge of the machines could be spread a little thin.

"There are only 3 or 4 companies, here in Arkansas only 2 vendors qualified to submit a contract with the state of Arkansas," said Smith.

With so few companies to cover the election across the country, complications were bound to happen.

"They just didn't have the resources. I know other states have had similar problems that Arkansas is experiencing, so it is a nationwide problem," said Smith.

Craighead County wasn't the only county in Arkansas that had problems Tuesday night. At least 16 other counties including Lawrence County had problems that left major races up in the air well into Wednesday morning.

"Polls closed at 7:30. Things started coming in pretty quickly. We didn't get done until, wellI didn't leave until 3. It was a long night," said Lawrence County Clerk Tina Stowers.

Machines were once again the problem. This time becauseES&S gave election officials incorrect information.

"We had been told we could use an ink pen on the ballot. We did and it didn't read them. We had to go back, and have all those checked to see what the problem was, and make sure it would read them," said Stowers.

Stowers did say the new electronic machines worked great and that in the future election results should be released around 2 hours after polls closed.

"If we are lucky maybe we will get out of here really earlier for a run off," said Stowers.

Election officials across the state are now working on ballots for that June 13th runoff in hopes it will run a little more smoothly.