by Max Brantley
Stu Soffer, the Republican member of the Jefferson County Election Commission, has sent me a lengthy note responding to an item here earlier in the week about a report that Republican primary voters had voted illegally in the Democratic runoff in Jefferson County. That item also noted concerns of Dorothy Hall of Sheridan, loser in a tight Democratic runoff for state representative, about unusual numbers in Jefferson County, where a large margin for her opponent Mike Holcomb of Pine Bluff gave Holcomb the win.
In short, Soffer thinks transcription errors may explain the illegal crossover question. He said voters asked for a Republican ballot in the first primary, found it didn't include the hot county judge's and state representative races on the Democratic ballot and then asked for a Democratic ballot. The voters weren't then "reprocessed" so the sign-in records properly recorded the primary in which they voted. But he said that didn't necessarily mean they voted a Republican ballot in the first primary.
Soffer said he also believed there was no "widespread incompetence" on the part of the county clerk's office, as suggested by Hall. He said, for example, it appeared unlikely that any late registering voters voted after the cutoff for participation in the primary. He noted that the deadline fell on a Saturday, April 21, which pushed the actual deadline to Monday, April 23. Soffer said the complaints that arose in this case did spur some ideas about improving procedures that might be useful statewide.