JIM LAGRONE NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK – (Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006) – Despite some media reports to the contrary, voters in numerous counties throughout Arkansas continue to be plagued with a plethora of problems at the polls during the two week early voting period.
Whether it’s “fat fingers” that cause someone to cast a vote for the wrong candidate, or no paper ballots in precincts where the electronic voting machines don’t work, voters have reported leaving polling sites angry and confused.
“I had a voter from Jacksonville call me to say that he and his wife tried to vote for me (on different machines) four different times but each time they selected my name, my opponent’s name popped up on the touch screen,” says Jim Lagrone, Republican candidate for Arkansas Secretary of State. “On the fifth try, it finally worked for both of them. When the husband called to complain, he was told that if his fingers were too fat, it could have caused him to keep hitting the wrong name – how ridiculous is that?” On inquiry, election officials told the Lagrone campaign that this was a “sensitivity” issue with the screens on the electronic machines, and was easily fixed by sending someone out to recalibrate the machines.
“I’m glad they got it fixed but what will they do on Election Day if numerous other machines across the state don’t register votes right because someone’s fingers are too fat, nails are too long or, for whatever reason, the screens are too sensitive?”
Voting problems stemming from electronic machine malfunctions, ballots programmed wrong and paper ballots printed incorrectly are occurring across the state, says Lagrone.
Complaints of problems have come to Lagrone from a number of counties in the last two weeks, including Benton, Carroll, Craighead, Garland, Greene, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski, Sebastian, Scott and Washington counties, to name a few.
“We’ve been receiving calls and emails daily since early voting began from people telling us about their experiences trying to vote early,” says Lagrone. You can scarcely pick up a newspaper or turn on your television without hearing about some election voting problem. Yet, every story seems to end with some type of statement implying that the problems experienced were minor and everything seems to be working fine now.
“If everything’s working so well with the touch screens,” says Lagrone. “Why did KTHV report last week that 60 percent of voters, when given the choice, are asking for paper ballots?
“Let me be clear – I think our election commissioners and county clerks are just making heroic efforts to deal with the current state of affairs and I applaud their efforts. Every election commissioner and every county clerk in
“I’ve studied our election system all year and have come to the conclusion that a major issue is a total lack of communication from the Secretary of State’s office to ES&S and back to election commissioners, the very people who are in charge of the elections.
In order to make our election process work, contends Lagrone, there needs to be a consistent and organized communication plan. “Daniels, his office and ES&S did not communicate well to election officials during the primary,” says Lagrone.
“He knew this was a major problem, yet didn’t make any effort to solve the communication problems for the general election, and here we are right back where we were during the primary – knee deep in an election quagmire.”
Lagrone points to an incident last week in
“Charlie Daniels and his hand-selected election company continue to run off good people versus working hard to cultivate good relationships for now and future elections.
“Charlie Daniels is the one who hand-picked ES&S,” reminds Lagrone. “Yet when problems arise he blames everyone but himself. How many missteps by this company does it take before Mr. Daniels’ recognizes we have a problem? And how many people’s future will be negatively and irreversibly affected because the integrity of our votes cannot be assured in this election cycle?
“Charlie Daniels recently told the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he wants credit for his accomplishments,” says Lagrone. “That’s fine. But if you take credit for accomplishments, you must also step up to the plate and take responsibility for failures – and he’s just not doing it. He wants all the credit and none of the blame.”