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Senate candidate’s election fraud lawsuit sees first hearing

The name "Jack Bequette" appearing on a ballot in Craighead County as early voting in primary...
The name "Jack Bequette" appearing on a ballot in Craighead County as early voting in primary elections is underway.(KAIT)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK/KAIT) - A lawsuit involving the misspelling of a Senate candidate’s name saw its first hearing, with the judge refusing to issue an order but leaving the case open.

On Tuesday, Republican candidate Jake Bequette filed a lawsuit claiming election fraud after his name was spelled “Jack Bequette” on two counties’ primary ballots, content partner KARK reported.

The suit includes Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston, the State Elections Commission, and county election commissioners for Craighead and Phillips counties.

Bequette said when early voting started Monday, he was made aware by “multiple voters” that his name was listed incorrectly.

In the lawsuit, he claims Craighead officials were told about the error on April 28 after being contacted by the Secretary of State’s office, who said they were “disappointed by the county’s actions. Phillips County officials were told on May 6, that the lawsuit continues, and also acted too late.

Craighead County later corrected the issue, with Phillips County following suit, according to KARK.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce asked what else he could order if the issue seemed to be fixed, with Bequette’s team saying they wanted a notice sent to all voters explaining the mistake.

The judge, however, said he would hold off, for now, to not risk confusing voters or giving Bequette an edge over other candidates. He added he found it disturbing the counties had known about the issue for some time but didn’t fix it until after early voting began.

Bequette stated he will continue to call on John Thurston and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to investigate the matter.

Kimberly Dale, Attorney for the Craighead County Board of Election Commissioners, released a statement following the hearing, calling the statements in the lawsuit “simply incorrect”:

“The applicable statute regarding corrections on ballot is governed by Arkansas Code Annotated Section 7-5-209. Craighead County Election Commissioners held a public meeting on April 29th, 2022, one day after the Secretary of State notified of the office of the error, explained the error and discussed timing since three weeks had already passed to have the County Clerk mail ballots as well as timing for the updated media. Notice was published as it required by statute. Arkansas Code Annotated reflects this process. There is simply no legal authority set forth by the General Assembly that requires any reprinting of ballots. Accusations relating to fraud are simply without merit and accusations that Craighead County Election Commissioners takes very seriously.”

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