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Benton County Election Commission Eyes Recounts

by Tom Sissom | June 28, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- A Benton County election official on Friday raised the prospect of adopting a practice of doing recounts in close elections without waiting for requests.

The Election Commission did a recount after the June 10 runoff election between incumbent Mike McKenzie and Ron Easley for the District 1 seat on the Quorum Court.

At A Glance

Initiating A Recount

An election commission may decide to do a recount on its own motion, without a request from a candidate. For example, when an advocate for or against a measure requests a recount the board may, at its discretion, do the recount. In this instance, the county would bear the cost because the law requires only candidates for office to pay the cost of recounts.

Source: Arkansas Code 7-5-319

Easley led the field in the four-candidate primary election May 20 and was five votes ahead of McKenzie after the votes were counted in the June 10 runoff. McKenzie asked for a recount, and the results were upheld when the votes were tallied again June 13.

Robbyn Tumey, commission member, suggested an automatic recount might be something the county should consider in close elections.

"We should do our own due diligence and do a recount before it's requested," Tumey said. "It was obvious there was going to be a request for a recount in this election. It was so close."

State election laws allow candidates who are "dissatisfied with the returns of the election" to ask for a recount. Candidates who ask for a recount must pay the cost of the recount themselves. If an election commission chooses to do a recount on its own, the county would bear the cost. McKenzie was charged $150 for the recount. The law allows counties to charge 25 cents per ballot cast or $2,500, whichever is less, for a recount requested by a candidate.

John Brown, commission chairman, said he was pleased the recount was handled smoothly and the initial count affirmed. The commission took no action on Tumey's suggestion.

The commission voted to have Kim Dennison, election coordinator, work to set the number of polling places for the Sept. 9 special election in Bella Vista. The city has two questions on the ballot related to police and fire pensions. Dennison told the commission there are 12 precincts that include voters eligible for the special election, and she would like to reduce that number to cut costs. Polling places commonly are combined in special elections because the turnout is typically low.

"We just need to decide if we want to open all of them or cut down on the number and save some money," Dennison said.

NW News on 06/28/2014

Print Headline: Election Commission Eyes Recounts


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