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VOL. 125 | NO. 112 | Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ark. Voting Lawsuit to Move Forward

JILL ZEMAN BLEED | Associated Press Writer

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A lawyer representing three Garland County voters who want Tuesday's election results nullified said Wednesday he'll move forward with the suit, even though the county's votes aren't enough to change the outcome of the high-profile U.S. Senate race.

Attorney Ben Hooten filed suit Tuesday in Garland County Circuit Court on behalf of three voters, arguing that the county improperly reduced its dozens of polling places for the primary election down to two for the runoff. He argues that poor, minority and older voters — who don't have access to a car — were disenfranchised.

The runoff "was intentionally scheduled by the defendants at two polling sites for the purpose of disenfranchising minority, elderly, poor and the disabled voters of Garland County, Arkansas," the lawsuit said. "These voters do not have the economic or physical means to cast their votes at the two designated polling places," which the suit contends were not well-known nor easily accessible.

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln won Garland County in the runoff by 46 votes. Her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, had won the county in the May 18 primary by 474 votes. There are not enough votes in Garland County to change the outcome of the Senate race, which Lincoln won by more than 10,000 votes.

Hooten filed the suit on behalf of residents Blake Robertson, Doug Jones and Ted Burhenn. He said the lawsuit wasn't motivated by support for either campaign.

"Do they support a particular candidate? No," Hooten said. "As far as I know, that never entered into it."

Hooten filed a similar suit against the commission in 2008 that was later dismissed.

County election commission chairman Charles Tapp has said the decision to curb the number of polling places was made in March, well within the 30-day limit required by law. He said he regretted the decision to make the cut, but said the commission didn't break the law.

He announced his resignation Wednesday from the commission, officials said. He didn't give a reason for quitting.

The vote is scheduled to be certified Friday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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