Benton County Printing More Paper Ballots After Running Out

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The Benton County administration building during the 2012 elections

Benton County election officials are printing more paper ballots after running out earlier today.

John Brown, chairman of the Benton County Election Commission, traveled to Fort Smith early Tuesday afternoon to retrieve more special paper stock for new ballots. Election officials hoped to roll out the newly-printed ballots by 3:30 p.m.

The commission planned to print 6,000 more paper ballots.

High voter turnout caused some precincts to run out of paper ballots before noon, said Russell Anzalone, Election Commission secretary.

Residents could still vote electronically, he said.

In anticipation of heavy voting, the commission printed two to three times the number of papers ballots used in the last presidential election in 2008, plus added 1,000 more, he said.

However, the county still ran out of paper ballots, he said.

Benton County Election Coordinator Kim Dennison said some voters apparently wanted to vote with paper ballots because the lines weren’t as long for those ballots as the lines for people voting electronically.

“People are not wanting to stand in line, is all it comes down to,” she said.

She said about 40,000 people voted early, and lines were long Tuesday for Election Day voting.

Bart Hester, a Cave Springs Republican running unopposed in the general election for the Senate District 1 seat, said in a tweet a little after noon on Tuesday that he counted 320 people in line and waited in line an hour and 15 minutes to vote.

Brown was sent to Fort Smith before noon to pick up more paper and was expected to be back in time to have more paper ballots printed and distributed to polling places by about 2 p.m., Dennison said.

She said electronic voting is available at all Benton County precincts, and each electronic machine prints a paper copy of every voter’s ballot.

“People are not being denied the vote,” she said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Benton County voters filled out the incorrect ballots at a Bentonville polling place Tuesday morning, according to county election officials.

Polling workers looked at the wrong precinct in a reference book, resulting in 400 Bentonville voters receiving county ballots instead of city ballots at Assembly of God Church. The county ballots do not include the Bentonville City Council race.

Poll workers noticed the discrepancy at about 11 a.m., and Dennison went to the site to fix the problem, she said.