Citing too many unanswered questions, the Union County Quorum Court voted 8-2 Thursday to table a discussion about the possibility of receiving new voting machines from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. The issue began earlier this year, when the state began to offer assistance to counties to purchase new voting machines. But in Union County, that offer has been rescinded more than once, leaving local officials unsure of how to proceed. Officials also voiced concerns with replacing equipment before the November election. Last month, Union County Judge Mike Loftin received a letter from Kelly Boyd, chief deputy Secretary of State, offering the county new voting machines for elections, for which the state would pay 50 percent of the costs. The letter stated that the total cost for the new machines for Union County would be around $440,000, using Election System & Software (ES&S).
In the same letter, Boyd quoted a Union County justice of the peace’s statement to the News-Times, published on May 13, and citing those comments as a reason to rescind the offer.
According to the May 16 letter, Boyd was “surprised” to see comments from Justice Greg Harrison, a former election commissioner, in the News-Times that stated that the equipment being offered by the state was reported to have vote flipping issues, a lack of a verified paper trail and internet access requirements, among other concerns that Harrison voiced. Boyd wrote that none of Harrison’s concerns were factual, calling several of them blatent falsehoods.
“I have no idea why Justice of the Peace Greg Harrison made these comments, nor frankly do I care,” Boyd wrote. “What I do care about is not creating an issue when all we are trying to do is assist Union County.”