VAN BUREN -- A circuit judge dismissed Thursday the election challenge to Crawford County's results in the state House District 25 Republican primary.
Candidate Jody Harris of near Fayetteville filed suit against the Crawford County Election Commission after losing to Chad Puryear of near Hindsville by seven votes. Harris did not file a required affidavit with the lawsuit within the 20-day time limit after the primary's results were certified, special Judge William R. Wright ruled in Crawford County Circuit Court. Wright, who is retired, was appointed by the state Supreme Court after other judges in Crawford County recused.
The primary was May 24. Disputes over the recount resulted in Crawford County not certifying the results until June 3.
Harris' suit disputed the counting of absentee ballots. The suit claims the commission mishandled absentee ballots during the original election night tally and then again during the recount, according to the suit. Those absentee ballots made the difference in the race, the suit argued.
The case went through two circuit courts and the state Supreme Court before Thursday's ruling.
Harris first filed in Franklin County. District 25 includes parts of Franklin, Crawford and Washington counties. Franklin County Circuit Court dismissed the case, ruling Harris should have filed her suit in Crawford County where the alleged irregularities occurred. Harris appealed and won, with the Supreme Court ruling the Franklin County court should have ordered the case transferred to Crawford County instead of dismissing it.
Thursday's ruling came in favor of a motion brought by Puryear, who intervened in the case, and the Election Commission. The motion to dismiss over the affidavit was filed in June when the case was still in Franklin County.
Certified results in all three counties together show Puryear winning 2,211 votes to Harris' 2,204. The Crawford County commission certified the results, showing Puryear as the victor.
The general election is Nov. 8 with early voting starting Oct. 24. Puryear faces Democrat Caitlin Oxford of Fayetteville.