The Lonoke County Election Commission was left scratching their heads following June 21 emergency meeting, over missing election items.
Election commissioner Jerry Shephard said the election commission voted during a previous meeting to file a police report with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office. Upon speaking with an investigator, Shephard said the election commission will need to get more specifics on the items missing. As of Tuesday, items missing include an desktop computer, laptop and the 2014 election records.
In an effort to maintain a better organizational system, the commission voted to have the county clerk to research and catalog all election commission items as already handled by other departments in the county. In addition, the commission voted to have the 2014 election boxes double checked to insure the missing items are not located in storage.
In other business, the commission discussed debt owed by the city of Cabot for unpaid election. Cabot’s election portion due is $45,492.58 from the 2016 general and run off election, $32, 918.54 for the 2016 general election and 12,574.04 for the 2016 run off. Cabot has also been billed $20, 541.34 for the 2014 election, which was recently discovered that it had not been billed.
During the June 15 Lonoke Quorum Court meeting, Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert stated that the cost discrepancy of the elections are perplexing. As an example, he said the county’s portion in 2010 election was $106,395 with 20,000 people voting and the county’s portion of $108,000 for 2016 election was nearly the same with 4,000 less voters.
Lonoke County Clerk Dawn Porterfield said there were 31, 204 registered voters in the county and 16,579 votes cast in the 2010 election. In 2016 there were 43,304 registered voters and 27,306 votes cast. During the election commission meeting, Shephard noted that despite the increase in voters, voting costs were actually reduced than increased.
While the question was raised if the city may be hoping to negotiation the costs, Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hooper said according to the statute, there is none.
“There is no power or authority to negotiate,” Hooper said.
By unanimous vote, the commission approved to send a letter to cities with the 2016 costs with a deadline for payment of Aug. 1, 2017. In addition, the commission unanimously approved to send a bill for the 2014 election with a deadline of Oct. 1.
Also during the meeting, the commission approved to hold a ballot draw at 2 p.m. July 13 at the court house. The next regular scheduled commission meeting will be at 5 p.m. July 13.