One Day Late: Craighead County Early Voting Process Gets Started Wednesday Afternoon

MAY 31, 2006 - Posted at 7:46 a.m. CST, updated at 1:21 p.m., updated at 4:42 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Early voting for the June 13 run-off election began Tuesday in Arkansas, but it didn't get started in Craighead County until Wednesday afternoon.  Craighead County was unable to open any polling sites until yesterday.  State election officials said federally mandated touch-screen machines would not be ready until later this week.

In Craighead County, early voting did not begin Tuesday because Election Systems and Software had not yet provided optical scan ballots. A frustrated Craighead County Election Commission Chairman Benton Smith told K8 News Wednesday, "ES&S has told us absolutely nothing.  As a matter of fact, I just got off the phone with him (ES&S representative) and they said they would call be back when they know something.  So, we have no status report whatsoever to give."

In Clark County, early voting was delayed until the afternoon because ballots had not arrived from ES&S.

Turnout was sporadic in the counties that did have early voting yesterday.

Jill Friedman-Wilson, a spokeswoman for ES&S, said the company is facing a short time frame between the primary and early voting to prepare the electronic ballots.  Friedman-Wilson said the company and the state are working with counties that are using paper ballots for early voting.

Meanwhile, Smith said the Election Commission met late Wednesday morning and opted to move forward with early voting through paper ballots, and the process began early Wednesday afternoon.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)