Election Workers Say Missing Ballots Skewed East Arkansas Senate Race

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A former election coordinator and poll worker told a legislative panel today that discrepancies in vote totals and hundreds of missing ballot stubs are enough to question a 2006 primary runoff for a state Senate seat.

Testimony is continuing in the hearing in which the Senate is to resolve a disputed election and consider whether to oust a sitting senator.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee will recommend to the full Senate whether Senator Jack Crumbly of Widener can remain in his east Arkansas post.  The vote is being challenged by former Rep. Arnell Willis of Helena-West Helena.  Senate District 16 covers parts of Crittenden, Lee, Phillips and St. Francis counties.

Crumbly was declared the winner in the 2006 Democratic primary runoff through a recount after initial results showed Willis the victor.

St. Francis County poll worker B.J. Griffith was hired by Willis' attorneys after the election to investigate the county's voting records.  Griffith testified that St. Francis County officials for a time could not locate a ballot stub box from one voting precinct.  Then, Griffith testified, the stubs were found in a cardboard box in the janitor's closet of the church that served as the precinct.

Griffith says the ballots were in a "shabby box with a piece of tape on it" while the votes were supposed to be secured.

The contest landed in the Senate after a special circuit judge ruled in February that the Legislature, not the courts, should decide who is the seat's proper  occupant.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)