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Vote recount held for Arkansas House District 25 primary race

Officials say due to programming issues and redistricting, 27 absentee ballots were not originally counted by machine.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — On election night, Tuesday, May 24, Arkansas House District 25 Republican candidate Jody Harris lost to opponent Chad Puryear by less than 10 votes.

Harris asked for a recount among the three counties that make up District 25, which includes parts of Washington, Franklin, and Crawford Counties. Crawford County began its recount on Saturday, May 28, but the recount is being paused at the request of Harris.

"They deserve to know whether or not their election was fairly conducted,” said Harris’ attorney Clint Lancaster. 

Lancaster says he is speaking for his client Jody Harris and all District 25 voters. 

"It was a difference of six votes. And this was a very close race," Lancaster said.

"I can assure you this was an honest election,” said Crawford County Election Commission Chairman Bill Coleman.

"I was doing is transferring those ballots along with other things down to the new facilities,” Coleman said. “And I inadvertently left those in my truck."

Coleman says he brought those 27 ballots inside his home Friday, May 27, evening, before the recount began on Saturday morning. He then said he forgot the ballots at his home. 

Out of the 27 ballots, Coleman says around 7-9 of them included ballots for the District 25 race.

"This is cause for concern," Lancaster said.

“There should be no way for that to have an impact in the election," Coleman said. He says this because they were “canceled” ballots.

"They were no longer valid,” Coleman said.

According to him, the problem stemmed from programming issues due to redistricting.

"They could not run through a tabulator,” Lancaster said. “So, under the election commission's direction, the ballot was re-made."

However, Lancaster says those ballots play a crucial part in the recount process.

"To determine what the original ballot said, what the new ballot said, and make sure that those match," Lancaster said.

Coleman says the state election commission did give him the ok to continue over the weekend once he picked up the ballots. However, Crawford County decided to move the recount to Wednesday, so all parties involved could be there for the recount.

According to Washington County Election director, the recount has been completed.

According to Franklin County Clerk Tammy Sisson, Franklin County completed its District 25 recount Tuesday, May 31. It resulted in one additional vote for Chad Puryear.

Sisson says an absentee ballot did not scan during the initial count. The Election Commission chairman reached out to the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners and the board directed commissioners to recreate the ballot.

RELATED: Three Crawford County primary elections headed to run-offs

RELATED: Primary Election Results | Arkansas Governor Race

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