LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas county clerks should allow people to vote if there is any question as to whether they have been removed from the voter rolls incorrectly, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday.
“I think they should lean in favor of the voter,” Hutchinson told reporters after giving a talk to the Arkansas Academy of Family Physicians in Little Rock. “We don’t want to inadvertently exclude somebody, and so if there’s any question, they should vote.”
The Secretary of State’s Office advised county clerks last month that it had erroneously flagged for removal from voter registration rolls some Arkansans it had identified as felons who in fact had never been convicted of a felony or had been convicted but later were pardoned or had their sentences discharged. More than 4,000 people apparently were flagged incorrectly.
Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said Thursday the governor’s office has determined that the problem occurred after the Secretary of State’s Office learned it was required under the state constitution to obtain felon data from the Arkansas Crime Information Center. Historically, the office had been obtaining that data from the state Department of Community Correction.
Davis said there turned out to be problems with the ACIC data — which is obtained from county clerks — that were not discovered until after the Secretary of State’s Office issued its felon data to the clerks.
The Secretary of State’s Office has advised county clerks to check the names on the list with their records and has said they can, if they choose, restore all of the stricken names to the voter rolls until each can be investigated.
Davis said the mistake was the result of problems in the communication of information.
“It’s no one in particular’s fault by any means. It’s just that communications aspect, which all three entities (the Secretary of State’s Office, ACIC and county clerks) are working to address,” he said.
The general election is Nov. 8. Hutchinson said Thursday he believes that “we’ve got time to get this resolved before the next election.”