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Computer issue delays uploading of county results

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Esther Dixon was trailing Eric Capaci in the District 3 justice of the peace race when she went to bed but had pulled ahead by the next morning, a reversal owing to more than 7,000 votes added late Tuesday to the county's unofficial general election tally.

The Garland County Election Commission said its state-provided laptop could not read a flash drive that collected data from a scanner that tabulated ballot-activation cards during early voting at the election commission building. Election Commission Chairman Gene Haley said poll workers had to scan the 7,412 cards voters fed the tabulator during 13 days of early voting.

"We used four scanners, and I had to pay four people overtime to hand scan the ballots," he said, noting that the more than 7,000 votes were not uploaded to the secretary of state's office until about 11 p.m. Results are not uploaded on the computer that reads the flash drives, Haley said. That information is sent to the state on another computer via an encrypted file, he said.

The computer that reads the flash drives is not connected to the internet or part of a computer network, he said.

Haley said among the more than 7,000 votes were 623 cast in the District 3 JP race. Dixon won 360 of those votes, pulling her ahead of Capaci by an 844-815 margin as of Wednesday morning, the commission said. District 3 is one of seven JP districts in the city of Hot Springs. It includes the Airport and Albert Pike road corridors and reaches as far west as Lake Hamilton.

A Dixon victory would make her the only Democrat to win a race in Garland County or carry the county in a state or federal race. She would also be the only woman on the quorum court in the 2019-2020 term after current District 3 JP Denise Marion chose not to run for a third term and four other Democratic women failed to win two open seats and two held by incumbents.

The commission and county clerk's office will determine which of the 59 provisional ballots cast countywide will be added to the final total prior to the Nov. 16 certification of election results. Haley said the commission had decided to count eight as of Wednesday morning, including one that listed the District 3 JP race. Ten ballots sent to overseas residents who are registered to vote in Garland County were outstanding as of Wednesday morning, Haley said.

Nov. 16 is the deadline for overseas ballots to arrive at the clerk's office.

Haley said ballots are marked as provisional for numerous reasons, including when voters apply for an absentee ballot but vote in person, don't show ID or are not listed in the county voting rolls. The county had an unofficial turnout of 32,108 voters with the 59 provisional ballots, the commission said. The turnout accounted for 48.7 percent of the county's 65,881 registered voters and included 10,493 election day voters, 20,912 early voters and 644 absentee voters.

The 883 ballots cast at Piney Grove Methodist Church on Airport Road made it the busiest election day vote center, followed by Creekside Community Church's 828. The Shady Grove Road location was the most trafficked election day site during the 2016 general election.

The county's election monitoring software showed voters 65 and older accounted for 45 percent of the turnout, while voters 34 and younger had 8.8 percent of the turnout.

City director races

Unofficial results show the Hot Springs Board of Directors will have one new member for the 2019-2020 term. Former District 4 Director Carroll Weatherford held a 106-vote lead over middle school teacher Dudley Webb III, according to information provided by the commission. Dan Bugg, Hot Springs' former director of animal services who is suing the city for age discrimination and other claims related to his dismissal in December, trailed Weatherford by 186 votes.

Weatherford is a contractor whom voters recalled from the board by a 488-69 margin in a 2009 special election. According to the pre-election report he filed with the county clerk, he spent $4,812 of his own money on his campaign.

Neither candidate won a majority, but Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Lance Spicer said Wednesday that a plurality is all that's required for candidates seeking director seats in a city manager form of government.

Incumbents Pat McCabe, mayor, Karen Garcia, District 5, and Elaine Jones, District 2, all had majorities in their races. According to information provided by the commission, McCabe led Brenda Brandenburg 6,510-4,065. Garcia led former District 5 Director Rick Ramick 1,530-852, and Jones led by more than 22-percentage points over Billy Blackmon and almost 34-percentage points over LeDante Walker Sr.

Local on 11/08/2018

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