Both of my daughters, who are either out of state working or attending college, voted using an absentee ballot. Several other family members also chose to vote absentee rather than early. I voted early. Many of my friends are voting in person on Election Day. Whose vote should not get counted? 

That is a trick question, by the way. 

But under an obscure Arkansas law, all ballots must be counted by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day when the polls close. It begs the question as to whether or not those remaining to be counted will be included in the final tally.  The clerk’s office is not allowed to start counting absentee ballot until the polls open on Election Day.

So what if too many ballots are received and not enough time allows for them to be counted? The significance of the 2013 law has never been tested but we also haven’t had an election in recent years during a pandemic, making it less safe for some people to go to the polls increasing the number of absentee ballots.

A record number of absentee ballots have already been cast this year, in Madison County, in Arkansas and in the United States. To make sure all ballots are counted, a lawsuit was filed last week in Pulaski County seeking an injunction against the obscure law as a way of making sure all ballots are counted no matter what time it is when the count is complete.

John Tull, an attorney not only for this newspaper but also for two women who submitted absentee ballots, filed suit in Pulaski County on Friday and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office immediately moved the lawsuit out of state court and into federal court and filed an answer to the lawsuit opposing the request for an injunction. It’s all a delay tactic on her part. 

Imagine our own attorney general seeking to enforce a law that has the potential to disenfranchise voters. Just as soon – as in minutes – as she moved the lawsuit to federal court, she sent out an email touting everyone’s right to vote and the integrity of the election process. 

That’s hypocritical, at best. 

Tull had this to say: “Frankly we were shocked the attorney general removed the case to federal court and filed an answer denying we were entitled to an injunction allowing all votes to be counted especially since after she filed that answer she sent an email to her email list which states ‘It is important for Arkansans to know that the integrity of the election is preserved and that when a ballot is cast, it will be counted.’”

We agree with you, John. 

Madison County Clerk Tamitha Blocker said the Election Commission will begin counting absentee ballots at 9 a.m. on Election Day. Unofficial results from that count will be released at 7:30 p.m., when the polls close. 

“However, any absentee ballot that is lawfully cast and is received by the various deadlines allowed by law will be counted and will be included in the official election results,” Blocker said. “Even with the massive increase in the amount of absentee ballots this year (we have sent 732 so far), I expect to have everything (that has been received) counted by 7:30.”


Ellen Kreth is publisher of the Madison County Record and can be reached at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com