VAN BUREN — The Crawford County recount for the Republican primary for state House District 25 between Jody Harris and Chad Puryear has been put on hold until Wednesday, at the request of Harris.
District 25 is in Crawford, Franklin and Washington counties
Crawford County started the recount Saturday morning, with Washington County’s recount to start Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday, election officials for that counties confirmed.
Franklin County’s Election Commission was set to meet late Thursday afternoon to decide when it will do a recount, according to a spokeswoman at the county clerk’s office.
“We stopped the recount today because I had requested to see the original absentee ballots, and when I asked for those I was told by the election commissioner, Bill Coleman, that they weren’t there at the Election Commission office. And when I said where are they, he said they were at his home. That was when I formally said we need to shut this down,” Harris explained. “That is not right. There is no reason for ballots to be at the home of the election commissioner.”
Harris, who lives near Fayetteville, trailed Puryear by six votes out of 4,412 cast. Puryear lives near Hindsville.
Final though unofficial results in the race as of Thursday morning showed Puryear with 2,209 votes to Harris’ 2,203. Harris led by 29 votes in Washington County, 1,360 to 1,331. Puryear led by 28 votes in Crawford County, 740 to 712. Franklin County’s 269 votes in this race favored Puryear 138 to 131.
Coleman claims the issue was caused by having incorrect programming for the primary elections due to the recent redistricting. He said the county clerk’s office worked to verify voters had the correct information on the primary ballots, but by then the absentee ballots had already been sent.
“When the clerk’s office went back and looked at those ballot applications that they had mailed out, there was only one person who had received a ballot that was incorrect, as far as the contents that they were supposed to vote in,” Coleman said. “The county clerk contacted that voter, and they made the exchange to get them the correct ballot to be able to cast their ballot. All of the rest of them had the correct information on there on who to vote for.”
“The problem was that when those ballots came back in, they were programmed and barcoded with the original programming on the election,” he explained. “When we went back and reprogrammed it, it changed the code to the barcodes to be able to read, so the tabulating machines would not read those ballots. So we processed all of the ballots on Election Day.”
Coleman added Crawford County’s Election Commission is working out of two offices as they move equipment into a new building. He said the old office is adjacent to the county courthouse, which made it easier for people to observe and count ballots on election night.
“Since we have those two offices and everything, though, what I did yesterday was transferring those canceled ballots that we had transferred the votes from to the new ballot stock, I was transporting them from one location to the other, as well as a bunch of other stuff, and I ended up leaving those in my truck and they ended up coming home with me,” he explained.
Coleman reiterated the votes were properly transferred to the new ballots, calling the ones he had in his truck trash by that point in time. He said he has been …….