Benton County election officials set Tuesday recount

NWA Democrat-Gazette/SPENCER TIREY 
Rep. Lana Della Rosa of Rogers (left) looks on Thursday, May 24, 2018, as Benton County Election Commission Chairman Ross Anzalone gives her the results of a recount in House District 90 race at the Benton County Election Commission in Rogers. Della Rosa ended up winning the election by four votes.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/SPENCER TIREY Rep. Lana Della Rosa of Rogers (left) looks on Thursday, May 24, 2018, as Benton County Election Commission Chairman Ross Anzalone gives her the results of a recount in House District 90 race at the Benton County Election Commission in Rogers. Della Rosa ended up winning the election by four votes.

ROGERS -- Benton County election officials say they expect to complete a recount in the closely contested race between Jana Della Rosa and Kendon Underwood for a seat in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.

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Kendon Underwood

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Jana Della Rosa

The Election Commission will begin its count of the ballots in the disputed race at noon Tuesday. Commissioner Robbyn Tumey estimated hand-counting the ballots could take two or three hours.

We will have 2,132 ballots to go through," Russ Anzalone, commission chairman, said Friday. "They are being separated right now by staff."

In the May 22 Republican Party primary election for the District 90 seat just three votes separated the two candidates after the initial count was done. Della Rosa, a two-term incumbent, led in that count 1,068 votes to 1,065 votes for Underwood.

The commission decided to do a recount and found one absentee ballot, which had been hand-entered because the electronic vote counting machines wouldn't read the creased ballot. Absentee ballots are folded when they are mailed to voters and returned by mail. When the votes on that ballot were first entered a vote for Della Rosa was omitted. That additional vote left the total 1,069 for Della Rosa and 1,065 for Underwood.

Underwood decided to ask for a recount after that first recount. The commission will hand-count the ballots in the race for the second recount.

"My only concern is that it is so close, I owe it to my supporters and to all of the voters of District 90 to make sure we have the right result," Underwood said .

Underwood had to pay for the recount he requested under state law. His money will be refunded if the recount changes the outcome of the race. A recount would cost 25 cents per ballot cast in his race. Underwood said he paid $533 to the commission.

The recount will be done next week, with the results known before the election results are certified by the Election Commission on Friday.

The commission met Friday to review the 21 provisional ballots cast in the May 22 primary election. The commission voted to accept eight of the 21 ballots. Most of the remaining 13 ballots were rejected as not being cast by voters who were registered in Benton County.

NW News on 05/26/2018