The Bill Halter campaign complained yesterday that Garland County had decided to open only two polls, rather than 40, for runoff voting there to save money. Under pressure from Halter, the commission agreed Friday to hold early voting in Hot Springs today. However, the early polling site ddn't open. Early voting will be possible Monday but Halter people worry that the diminished polling places will depress turnout in a county that went heavily against incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
Witnesses say dozens of people were in line to vote at the promised opening hour of 10 a.m.
I've learned that election commission chairman Charles Tapp was informed this morning by Susan Inman, a former Pulaski County elections co-ordinator and now executive director of the Arkansas County Election Commission
Clerks Association, that the county couldn't legally hold voting today.
"I almost spewed my coffee when I read that in the paper," she said.
The statute says voting for a runoff primary may only be held during the normal office hours of the county clerk and the county clerk is not open on Saturday, Inman said. Tapp at first disagreed with her, she said, but when she talked again with him later he'd apparently received similar advice.
Inman said she wasn't prepared to say whether the law required a county to have runoff voting at the same preciincts as in the first primary, but she said it should do so if all precincts have races to consider. "It's just good customer service," she said.