Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes, a free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes, visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.
(a)(1) The election officials for absentee ballots may meet in a place designated by the county board of election commissioners no earlier than the Tuesday before the election for the purpose of opening the outer envelope, processing, and canvassing of absentee ballot paper work and no earlier than 8:30 a.m. on election day for the purpose of opening the inner absentee ballot envelope and counting the absentee ballots.
(2) The county board of election commissioners shall give public notice of the time and location of the opening, processing, canvassing, and counting of absentee ballots and early voting ballots as provided in § 7-5-202.
(3) The county clerk shall forward the following items to the election officials designated by the county board of election commissioners to open, process, canvass, and count absentee ballots:
(A) The absentee ballot applications sorted alphabetically or by precinct;
(B) The absentee ballots; and
(C) A written report containing the following information:
(i) The number of absentee ballot applications received by the county clerk;
(ii) The number of absentee ballots sent by the county clerk;
(iii) The number of absentee ballots returned to the county clerk;
(iv) The number of absentee ballots rejected by the county clerk and the reason for the rejection;
(v) The number of absentee ballots marked as received on the paper absentee ballot applications list; and
(vi) If the number of absentee ballots returned to the county clerk and the number of absentee ballots marked as received on the paper absentee ballot lists are different and the reason for the difference is known, the reason for the difference.
(4) The processing and counting of absentee ballots shall be open to the public, and candidates and authorized poll watchers may be present in person or by a representative designated in writing under § 7-5-312 during the opening, processing, canvassing, and counting of the absentee ballots as provided in this subchapter.
(5)(A) Absentee and early votes shall be counted prior to the closing of the polls on election day as provided under this section.
(B)(i) The county board of election commissioners shall report by precinct the initial count of early votes and absentee ballot votes to the Secretary of State as provided under § 7-5-701 as soon as practical after the polls close on election day.
(ii) No election results of the precinct shall be printed, posted, or released until after the polls close on election day.
(b)(1) The opening, processing, counting, and canvassing of absentee ballots shall be conducted as follows:
(A) One (1) of the election officials shall open outer absentee ballot envelopes one by one and verify the contents;
(B) If the required materials are properly placed in the outer absentee ballot envelope, the election official shall proceed to read aloud from the voter statement the name of the voter;
(C) If the required materials are not properly placed in the outer absentee ballot envelope, a second election official shall open the inner absentee ballot envelope to verify the contents;
(D) If all required materials are present within one (1) or the other envelope, the election officials shall put the materials in the proper envelope while preserving the secrecy of the voter's ballot and shall proceed to read aloud from the voter statement the name of the voter and the voting precinct in which the voter claims to be a legal voter;
(E) As each outer envelope is opened and the name of the voter is read, the election officials for the absentee box shall list the name and voting precinct of the voter;
(F)(i) After the election official reads aloud from the statement, the election officials shall compare the name, address, date of birth, and signature of the voter's absentee application with the voter's statement and, for first-time voters who registered by mail, the first-time voter's identification document unless the voter previously provided identification at the time of mailing the voter registration application.
(ii) If the county board of election commissioners determines that the application and the voter's statement do not compare as to name, address, date of birth, and signature, the absentee ballot shall not be counted.
(iii) If a first-time voter fails to provide the required identification with the absentee ballot or at the time of mailing the voter registration application, then the absentee application, absentee ballot envelope, and voter's statement shall be placed in an envelope marked “provisional” and the absentee ballot shall be considered a provisional ballot;
(G) The election officials shall compare the name and address of the bearer, agent, or administrator written on the absentee ballot return envelope with the information on the voter statement. If the information does not match, then the outer envelope, absentee application, secrecy envelope containing the ballot, and the voter's statement shall be placed in an envelope marked “provisional” and the absentee ballot shall be considered a provisional ballot;
(H) If the absentee voter fails to return the voter statement, the vote shall not be counted;
(I) Failure of the voter to submit the required absentee materials in the proper envelopes shall not be grounds for disqualifying the voter;
(J) If the voter statement does not authorize a bearer, agent, or administrator to receive or return his or her absentee ballot and the ballot was received or returned by a bearer, agent, or administrator, the vote shall not be counted;
(K) If no challenge is made by a qualified poll watcher, the election official shall remove the inner envelope, without opening the inner envelope containing the ballot, and place it in the ballot box without marking it in any way;
(L)(i) After all of the outer envelopes have been opened, the election officials of the absentee box shall preserve all the statements of voters and the voters' identification documents and deliver them to the county clerk, who shall file and keep them for the same length of time after the election as is required for retention of other ballots.
(ii) The voter statements shall be made available for public inspection during regular business hours.
(iii) The voters' identification documents shall not be subject to public inspection except as part of a judicial proceeding to contest the election;
(M) When all of the inner envelopes containing the ballots have been placed in the ballot box, the ballot box shall be shaken thoroughly to mix the ballots; and
(N) The ballot box shall be opened and the ballots canvassed and counted.
(2) No election results shall be printed or released prior to the closing of the polls on election day.
(c) If any person casting an absentee ballot dies before the polls open on election day, his or her vote shall be accepted by the county clerk if the absentee ballot is:
(1) Signed, dated, postmarked, and mailed before the date of death;
(2) Signed, dated, and delivered to the county clerk by a designated bearer, authorized agent, or administrator before the date of death; or
(3) The ballot of a member of the armed services or Arkansas National Guard in active duty or state active duty executed before the date of death.
(d) It is the intent of this section to require the election officials for absentee ballots to meet and process, canvass, and count absentee ballots according to this section prior to the closing of the polls on election day.
(e)(1) Absentee votes shall be cast on paper ballots.
(2)(A) The ballots shall first be counted for write-in votes by the election officials.
(B) Then, at the discretion of the county board of election commissioners, the ballots may be either hand counted or counted on an electronic vote tabulating device.
(f)(1) Absentee ballots marked as “special runoff ballots” received from a qualified voter from one (1) of the categories in § 7-5-406(a) shall be opened for general primary elections and general runoff elections according to the procedures described in subsection (b) of this section.
(2) However, in counting the special runoff ballot, one (1) of the election officials shall open the envelope containing the special runoff ballot and read the numbers indicated next to the names of the two (2) candidates in the general primary election or in the general runoff election.
(3) The candidate with the highest ranking shall receive the vote.
(4) A special runoff ballot received with the preferential primary absentee ballot shall be counted in the general primary election, and a special runoff ballot received with the general election absentee ballot shall be counted in the general runoff election.
(5) The Secretary of State shall prepare instructions for opening, counting, and canvassing special runoff ballots and provide the instructions to each county board of election commissioners.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Arkansas Code Title 7. Elections § 7-5-416. Counting of absentee ballots - last updated January 01, 2020 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ar/title-7-elections/ar-code-sect-7-5-416.html
FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.