There will be no change in the Republican primary election for Faulkner County Clerk.
The county election commission decided to do a recount to “err on the side of caution,” as commission chairman Betty Pickett put it Thursday afternoon. Candidate Marvin Lessmann has claimed that he was locked out of the courthouse when he arrived about a minute before closing time on the last day to file a recount petition, May 22.
Two election commissioners, the county clerk and the county clerk’s office staff have said that they were there at the 4:30 closing time waiting for Lessmann, who they knew was supposed to be coming, and he never showed up.
The recount was done on Friday morning and early afternoon. About half a dozen paper trail “tapes” were damaged by what looked to be the usual snags, jams and paper breakages that come with printers. The paper trails look like a normal cash register receipt.
The votes recorded on these broken tapes were counted manually by a process that involved unspooling about a hundred feet of the paper tape and counting them one by one.
Printouts that should be a compilation of all the machines’ electronic cartridges were also compared against digital numbers. At the end of the process, it was agreed by the commission, the results won’t be changed.
The vote before a handful of provisional ballots that were certified on Thursday were deemed countable was 4,522 to 3,822 in favor of the other Republican primary candidate, deputy county clerk Margaret Darter. The addition of the provisional ballots brings the final total to 4,523 to 3,823.
Lessmann said in a news release on Friday that he intended to ask for the recount more to focus “attention on the process” than his race alone, saying that his campaign team remains concerned about the low turnout, “lack of data released on the races, and the laws that needed to be reviewed to help election commissions and county clerks with the process and, of course, the under votes.”
Darter will be running against Democratic challenger Aaron Knight in the November election.