by Max Brantley
School elections. First, from this afternoon:
Note this: There's an extraordinary number of absentee ballots filed in Little Rock School District Zone 1, where Norma Johnson is the only candidate on the ballot, but a write-in candidate, Loretta Hendrix, also is running.
As of 5 p.m., 570 absentee ballots had been accepted by the county clerk for the entire county, 110 of them from Little Rock Zone 1. By contrast, in North Little Rock, where voters have a contested race in Zone 5, only 10 absentee ballots were cast.
The Election Commission said 144 people voted early in the county, 28 of them from Zone 1. In North Little Rock Zone 5, there were 25 early votes.
When the votes are counted, we'll know if an organized effort was afoot on absentees. But, in a race with a light vote, as I mentioned in a column recently, 100 absentee ballots could really make a difference. Hendrix is the daughter of City Director Erma Hendrix, so she might be expected to have some political acumen.
Actual voting continues until 7:30 p.m.
UPDATE: Norma Johnson won the Zone 1 LRSD early balloting 21-5. Still waiting for that absentee vote.
FWIW: All the early vote went FOR existing school tax millages. No increases were on the balllot and they don't change regardless.
UPDATE II: Looks like both sides got absentees out. With 10 of 14 precincts reporting, Johnson is leading Hendrix 68-43. Of that total, the absentees split 47-48 Johnson v. Hendrix.
In North Little Rock, incumbent Scott Teague is swamping Jimmy Ard, 124-24.
UPDATE III: I don't know why it is taking so long to count so few votes, but I'm calling it a night. The latest returns show incumbent Scott Teague running away with the NLR contested election and Norma Johnson, the only candidate on the ballot in Little Rock, winning 254-162 over write-in Loretta Hendrix, with an even split on absentee votes. The absentees accounted for about a quarter of the votes in the race, a high percentage, but turned out not to be determinative. Johnson got a 72-16 edge, or more than half of her margin, in Precinct 118, roughly between I-30 and Broadway south of I-630.