Eight Losers Now Winners
This article was published on Thursday, November 9, 2006 10:22 PM CST in News
By Michelle Burhenn
The Morning News
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BENTONVILLE The results of eight races flip-flopped Thursday after the Benton County Election Commission fixed a computer glitch.
The commission announced the new results Thursday after working until 3 a.m. that morning to fix a computer problem that threw out tabulated votes as new votes were entered on election night.
The new results reflected a much higher turnout. Tuesday's results showed only 47,134 people voted, a 49 percent turnout. Thursday's numbers showed 79,331 votes were cast, a 83 percent turnout.
Candidates gathered at the news conference to learn their fate. Election Coordinator Jim McCarthy read off races to interested candidates. One candidate, Bethel Heights mayoral candidate Lewis J. Patton, came to only find out he still lost.
Candidate Frank Winscott and his wife, Carolyn learned Winscott had squeaked out a victory over Democrat Cheryl Murphy. Winscott had 2,191 votes to Murphy's 2,154, which gave him 50.4 percent of the vote. Tuesday's election results showed Murphy with a narrow lead.
"I appreciate all your efforts," Winscott, a Republican, said, as his wife said a prayer.
Said McCarthy: "I bet you're happy you came."
Six people who thought they lost now won their seats: Winscott; Keven Varner, Highfill alderman; Kamela LeMons, Lowell alderwoman; Jim Kooistra, Gentry alderman; Randall J. Noblett, Cave Springs alderman; and Ray Bunch, Bella Vista city attorney.
Paul Bridges found out Thursday he lost his bid for Bella Vista city attorney.
"It was too close to call," he said. "I hadn't banked on anything yet."
In two races, the top two candidates changed, altering the ballot for the Nov. 28 runoff election: Terry Burnside, Bella Vista alderman, and Janette Lasater, Lowell city clerk, will join candidates Stephanie Hacker and Beverly C. Keown in their respective races.
Lasater also attended the conference and yelped when she heard she was in the runoff. She was one of the candidates who saw her vote totals at one point Tuesday.
"It was very confusing," Lasater said of Tuesday night's results. "I heard other people's numbers were ping, too. It just doesn't work that way."
All of the changed results were in tight races or where few votes were initially recorded. In the other races, percentages stayed consistent while vote totals leaped. McCarthy said about 25 provisional ballots are left to be counted.
McCarthy said the Election Commission's attempt to share real-time results with partygoers at the Clarion Hotel in Bentonville caused the glitch.
Because each precinct used both electronic-voting and optical-scan machines, the election workers tried to combine the results together six precincts at a time. Each time the election workers submit new precincts, votes already recorded were lost. Election Systems & Software, who has a statewide contract to provide the machines, told McCarthy the county should have reported all of the one type of machine first instead of at the same time.
"The machines worked flawlessly," McCarthy said. "The fault was human. The fault was right here."
McCarthy said he did not realize the problem until Wednesday morning. To fix the problem, the Election Commission reloaded the results into the Election Management Recording System. McCarthy said he is confidant the results released Thursday are accurate.
"I've been on the commission for 10 years," Lynn Chinn said. "I've never seen an election more honest than this one."
In Carroll County, votes were still not counted, according to the county clerk.
Runoff elections will be held Nov. 28 in the following races:
Alderman Position 3
Judith S. Benn 4,579, 32 percent
Doug Farner 6,818, 47 percent
Alderman Position 4
Stephanie Hacker 3,566, 25 percent
George Holmes 2,726, 19 percent
Alderman Position 5
Beverly Bell 4,465, 31 percent
Earl D. Berdine 3,856, 27 percent
Bill Howard* 296, 31 percent
Michael Charles vonRee 275, 29 percent
Phil Biggers* 717, 42 percent
Perry Long 381, 22 percent
Beverly C. Keown 516, 33 percent
Janette Lasater 533, 34 percent
Alderman Ward 2, Position 1
Ronald Breland 574, 40 percent
Eric D. Schein 510, 36 percent
Alderman Ward 2, Position 2
Guary Morgan 1,167, 35 percent
Martin Marler 876, 26 percent
* Indicates the incumbent.
Keown was appointed to the Lowell city clerk's position in November 2005.