Confusion At Fort Smith Polling Site Leaves Voters Upset

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Some voters in Fort Smith said they’re upset after some confusion at a Fort Smith polling site this morning.

Voters said they arrived at Temple Baptist Church on South 31st to find the front doors locked.

Violet Adams said she arrived at the church 10 minutes early so she could vote right away at 7:30 a.m. However, she said the doors were locked and the church appeared empty when she arrived. She said she and several other voters waited at the front door until the poll workers showed up around 8 a.m. to let them in.

“It was a really big inconvenience,” Adams said. “I had to call my supervisor to tell her I was going to be late because I was out trying to vote this morning.”

Adams said the poll workers did not open the front doors of the church until after 8 a.m. Once they were open, she went inside and was able to cast her ballot right away.

Poll workers on site said they had only opened the back door to the church. They said they were on site at 6:15 a.m. as planned, but had just only opened the one door, which is why voters were confused and locked out.

“We have a handicapped access and an access towards the back, many of our people went to the handicapped access,” said volunteer Lynn Vonderheide. “Our handicapped people know exactly where to go but the voters came to the door that was locked.”

Vonderheide said that voters just simply went to the wrong door.

Once they realized where the voters had lined up, poll workers said they then unlocked the front doors of the church. Several voters then went inside to cast their ballots.

The poll workers did apologize to voters for the confusion and inconvenience, Adams said.









  • Ishmail Dentor

    Perhaps a sign such as was at my polling place would help. My polling place is also a church but there were signs at the road pointing to the correct parking lot and signs at the door saying “vote here” with an arrow pointing to the door. Hard to miss.

  • unbelievable

    I’m sure there were clearly marked signs pointing to the door. None of the church’s use the main entrance for voting it is always a side/back or whatever door. The church I vote at has used the same door for 20 years. They do not want people tromping through the sanctuary. The first person showed up and stood at the wrong door and like a bunch of lemmings everyone else lined up behind him/her.

  • not the mama

    Bobreal is right, they have enacted strict rules to stop alleged voter fraud,oh wait, that be republicans!

  • Joan

    Always interesting to me that people don’t mind using churches for polling places (or homeschool test sites). Seems to me that someone (Freedom from Religions Organizations) should be crying “separation of church and state”. The government doesn’t seem to mind using the church when it benefits them, but sure cry out if a church needs to use a government building.

  • Michael

    We moved here 9 months ago, so this was our first voting experience in Fort Smith. Not a good one. We recvd our voter registration card in the mail. Went to the polling place. Stood in line for 40 mts…only 1 person working the book and so super slow. The couple in front of us hand them their cards and ids….they tell them they are not in the book. We hand them our cards and id’s…were told we are not in the book…even thought our cards say we are at the right place. Some lady on the phone calls the election headquarters and she is told we are out the wrong place and we “should have known that wasn’t out voting place”. The nice lady trying to help said….”well you sent them a card with this address on it for them to come vote here…its not their fault”. We then had to get back in the car, drive 5 miles across town to the right place. We get there…the lady at the first book finds our names….the lady at the 2nd book can’t find our names….when they point out she holding my id in her hand and still looking at the wrong page…she is able to find my name and I was able to vote. Politicians spend millions of dollars to get out the vote…why doesn’t the election commission care anymore about peoples votes than to even send them to the right place. Makes you understand why people say its not worth the effort

    • unbelievable

      Sebastian county choose to use the books for some reason instead of using the electronic records. Does not make any sense to me. I voted Saturday and it was the quickest I’ve ever made it through even though there were at least 20 people in front of me. They were using the electronic records. I handed her my DL, she pulled me up and printed out the record, I signed it and she gave me a piece of paper with my precinct # on it so they could select the correct ballot on the machine. The whole process took maybe 2 minutes but on election day it can take 20 minutes just to get signed in.

  • Kari Fenby

    I’ve been voting there since 2001 and no one has had to call the news because I wasn’t bright enough to follow the BIG sign that reads polling station and has (wait for it) a BIG arrow pointing
    towards the entrance which has always been at the back of the building in the gym. Wow. I wouldn’t have apologized, I would have showed them the sign.

    • Violet Adams

      Alas if only that early they actually had put their sign out. Having just moved here from Louisiana this summer, I realize that things are different but inefficient is another matter altogether.

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