Bloody Benton County | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bloody Benton County

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2006 at 5:40 AM

Here's the full rundown on the vote-counting disaster in Benton County, a third and entirely different set of numbers that again alter some outcomes.

Some quotes in the story tell it:

"I appreciate the fact that [Election coordinator Jim] Mr. McCarthy believes everything is correct now, but what assurance do we have of that?" said Janette Lasater, who in the latest results was six votes shy of a runoff for Lowell city clerk. "We have three totally different results. ... "It's deplorable that our system is screwed up," she said. "It's not that hard. This isn't rocket science. It's counting."

Indeed. People should be outraged. They particularly should be outraged because part of the problem stemmed from an effort to direct a "live" feed of results to a Republican watch party at a local hotel by the county clerk.

And there was this:

McCarthy explained Monday that the unprecedented voter turnout in the second set of results, which he announced Thursday, led him to believe something was wrong. He'd asked for a retabulation after the first set of results because turnouts in some precincts seemed too low.

I remember it differently I remember that McCarthy initially announced the retabulation Thursday with a straight face and that newspapers generally reported it with a straight face. When I asked a reporter who wrote one of the stories on the mind-blowing assertion that 83 percent of Benton County voters had voted, I got a number of reasons -- first elections in Bella Vista, better voting turnout in Benton County, Republican fervor -- to explain how the number must be right. Not shared skepticism. But candidates did what McCarthy and reporters did not. They started finding the places where McCarthy was reporting more votes than voters. Then the scrambling began.

But what if only some marginalized person in Benton County had complained -- like a Democrat? And what if the results as announced Thursday had been critical to the crowd assembled for the county clerk's special hotel feed?

This is sorry business. The state is not out of the election woods . One problem was the melding of results from electronic and paper balloting. A simple way to fix that is to go all-paper.



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