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Wes Clement   THE PineBluff COMMERCIAL   26 October 2008

The Jefferson County Election Commission held an emergency meeting Friday morning to correct an error that caused some voters in Redfield and Altheimer to cast early ballots that contained errors.

In Redfield and Altheimer, all residents may legally vote for alderman candidates of any ward, Election Coordinator Taylor Eubank said.

The original electronic ballots that have been available for early voting use since Oct. 20 only presented voters of the two towns the opportunity to vote for alderman candidates of the ward in which the voters were registered rather than all wards.

The problem was brought to the attention of the commission Thursday evening by Redfield alderman candidate Tony Lawhon, who reported his race did not appear on the early voting ballot of a resident, Commissioner Stu Soffer said.

While researching the problem, the commission learned the same error had occurred in Altheimer.

In Altheimer there is only one contested alderman race, so the commission voted to enter voters of that town into the electronic system as residents of the precinct that corresponds with the ward position on the ballot. This will cause the electronic voting machines to include

the race on the ballots of all remaining Altheimer voters.

The commission began Friday morning creating paper ballots containing the three alderman races for Redfield. Remaining voters registered in Redfield will vote electronically on all ballot items except alderman races. All Redfield voters will use the paper ballots for the alderman races, Soffer said.

Soffer said reprogramming the electronic voting machines at this point is both time- and cost-prohibitive.

Although the problem was resolved, those who have voted already would be prohibited by state law from re-voting without a court order, Eubank said.

“My immediate reaction is to hope for a landslide,” said Soffer. “In the event of a close race, the losing candidate has either 20 or 21 days to file with a court challenging to declare the election null and void.”

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