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Pulaski County?s tallies flawed, so state to ?amend? Nov. 2 vote result

BY JAKE BLEED   Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2004

Two days after certifying final results for the Nov. 2 election, the Arkansas secretary of state?s office said it must "amend" those results after discovering an error in how votes were counted in Pulaski County. "We?re going to have to amend the certification results for Pulaski County," said Janet Miller, deputy secretary of state for elections and public relations. "Their hard copy and what they sent us on the computer was wrong."

Miller said her office has asked all 75 counties to confirm that the vote totals submitted to the secretary of state match those recorded by county election commissions.

Susan Inman, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission, said the county had submitted accurate totals to the office of County Clerk Carolyn Staley, whose office then filed those numbers with the secretary of state. "Ours is generated off of the voting system," Inman said. "It?s taken by paper to the county clerk?s office, and someone at the county clerk?s office takes that paper and types it into a Web form."

Inman added, "You can see how an error could occur in that process."

Janice Hay, Staley?s chief deputy, said her office spent Wednesday "trying to verify" vote totals but would not come up with final numbers until Monday. "Our verification process is going on right now, and we have not completed it," Staley said. "We have to verify each and every precinct and their totals."

Hay described her office as the "middle party" in the system.

Several differences can be found between vote totals on the secretary of state?s Web site ? www.arelections.org? and those on the Pulaski County Election Commission?s site ? www.votepulaski.net.

For example, the secretary of state?s site reported U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., receiving 155,290 votes in Pulaski County, as of late Wednesday.

At the same time, the county?s Web site showed Snyder receiving 97,733 votes. Snyder defeated State Rep. Marvin Parks, RGreenbrier, in the race for the 2 nd Congressional District seat.

The margin of victory, according to the secretary of state, was 102,416. According to the county, the margin was 44,622.

A constitutional ban on gay marriage received 92,723 votes, according to the secretary of state, and 96,062, according to the county. Both report that measure passing by a wide margin.

Another constitutional amendment that would extend term limits for state lawmakers failed by 59,809 votes, according to the county, and by 58,442 according to the secretary of state.

Inman said the differences could result from the counting of provisional ballots, which continued until this week. "But they should only be different in maybe one or two or three," Inman said. "Small numbers."

State Rep.-elect Dawn Creekmore, D-Hensley, said she alerted the secretary of state to a problem in how Pulaski County votes were recorded in her race against Republican opponent Penny Kemp of Shannon Hills.

The secretary of state?s Web site showed Creekmore losing in Pulaski County with 659 votes to Kemp?s 1,305. Instead, Creekmore said, those results should be reversed. "I drove around and got the results," Creekmore said. "I knew them. Then we came home and saw the numbers on TV and the numbers were the exact opposite."

The county?s Web site show?s Creekmore receiving 1,327 votes in Pulaski County and Kemp receiving 637.

Creekmore, whose district includes area of Saline and Pulaski counties, was named the winner in the race.

The secretary of state had certified its election results Monday, saying that vote totals posted on its Web site were accurate.

However, votes for write-in U.S. Senate candidate Glen Schwarz changed between Monday, when he had 74 votes, and Wednesday, when he had 213. "We?re auditing the results, to see if what they sent us matches what was on file at the county," Miller said.

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