Election Commission hashes out election aftermath
Board reviews contested ballots; sets date for Earle Council runoff
The Crittenden County Election Commission met Monday to tally paper ballots cast in the general election.
Missing paperwork in County Clerk Paula Brown’s office prevented some absentee ballots from a timely counting on Election Day. Those ballots, which could have been quickly scanned if coupled with applications, took 90 minutes to count by hand during the Nov. 14 meeting.
Provisional ballots were also considered one-by-one and tallied out loud during the marathon 3 1/2 hour meeting, and voter complaints were heard and decided during the confab.
But with most of the votes counted settled and election certification pending, the City of Earle still has a pair of issues to settle. The commissioners announced details of a runoff election slated between incumbent councilwoman Sarah Johnson and challenger Tyrone Hurst for Johnson’s Ward 4, Seat 4 Earle City Council seat.
The runoff is the result of the election night total in which no candidate received a majority in the three-way race. Hurst actually garnered the most votes (90) ahead of Johnson (69) and third candidate Robert Udell Sr. (50).
Udell’s name will be eliminated and the race will be decided between the two top vote-getters in the runoff, slated for Tuesday, Nov. 29. Early voting will be conducted Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Nov. 21-23, and Monday Nov. 29 at the County Courthouse between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. There is no voting on Thursday or Friday (Nov. 24, 25 over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
One precinct in Earle, St.
Luke Baptist Church, will be open on runoff election day, Nov. 29.
The board also outlined the procedure to vacate the seat held by Mayor Carolyn Jones ousted by voters on election day, and set up a special mayoral election.
While Earle citizens still have some waiting to do for a new mayor, current Mayor Carolyn Jones was recalled by voters during the general election by a 522-239 vote.
“The Earle Council must meet and make an official resolution, proclamation, or pass an ordinance declaring the mayor’s office vacated,” said Carlson. “Then they will have to pass an ordinance to ask for a special election which cannot be less than 70 days after their official action is filed with the County Clerk.”
A $5,000 bill was projected to cover the cost of the special election to elect a new Mayor in Earle, including polling day at St.
Luke’s, along with the early voting expenses at the courthouse location.
The agenda also included commissioners hearing seven voter complaints about the election. Three voters submitted written complaints about rude interactions with poll workers on election day using key words, mis-treated, disrespected, and bullied respectively. One question was raised about an unused early voter slip that didn’t make it from the clerks office to a voting station and a felon wrote about being turned away.
Earle City Council candidate Eddie Maye Hale backed up her written complaint with a personal plea before the election commission. She had also carried a handful of written complaints to election officials the day after the election.
Hale complained one poll worker in Earle was related to an opponent.
“His sister was working the polls, taking names and giving out instructions,” said Hale.
Crittenden County Commissioner
Dixie Carlson admitted the commission was in no position to dispute to Hale’s claim but pointed out the opportunity to challenge poll workers had been properly provided.
“Poll workers names are were posted at the courthouse in the clerk’s office before the election,” said Carlson. “If there were a problem with any of them the time to do that was before the election.”
Commissioner Frank Barton cited the statute and elaborated.
“A relative of a candidate is not prohibited from being a poll worker,” said Barton. “However, if there is an objection to that person that comes to us, then we replace that person. But, without receiving an objection we wouldn’t replace the poll worker.”
“I thought when they signed up to work the poll, that would be checked,” said Hale. “Why would I be expected to come to Marion to check the list?”
“The laws said unless there is an objection,” said Carlson. “When we do the poll workers, we have no idea who their family and sisters and brothers are.
That is a learning lesson for people when they are candidates, they need to follow-
Commissioner’s are expected to meet again Monday Nov. 21 to officially certify the Nov. 8 election results.
By John Rech