Ripley mayor race heads to runoff despite error

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – Voters thinned a nine-man mayoral field to two Tuesday, despite election problems earlier in the day.
Unofficial election results Tuesday may set up a runoff for Feb. 28 between Chris Marsalis and Breat Tye, who had the two highest vote totals Tuesday.
Tye outpolled Marsalis 256-244.
However, 27 affidavit votes will be counted this morning.
Tye said he would wait until the affidavit votes are counted before deciding whether to challenge the results of the election.
Tye’s name was left off a ballot used by electronic voting machines when the election began at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
An hour into the voting, Tye noticed his name wasn’t on the ballot. City election officials quickly conferred, then opted to use paper ballots and continue the election.
Listed alphabetically, here are the unofficial vote totals from Tuesday’s election: Joe Akins, 60; Charles Braddock, 138; Lewis Davis, 216; Jon Grisham, 202; Jerrell Lewellen, 131; Chris Marsalis, 244; Benjamin “Ben” Ridge, 55; Matthew Smart, 28; and Tye, 256.
Tye said about mid-morning Tuesday that as far as he knows, he was the first person to realize his name was not on the ballot being used by touch screen electronic voting machines.
“I went in to vote about 8 a.m. in the Ward 2 polling place and couldn’t find my name,” he said. “After that, a supporter said my name wasn’t in the Ward 4 polling place. I’ve talked to several people who said my name was on records at the courthouse, but it was not on the machines early Tuesday morning.”
City election commissioners issued the following statement about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday: “There was a candidate’s name not appearing on the TSX units. The issue was caught very early during the election process, and the issue has been resolved. The election will proceed on paper ballots.”
According to election figures, 1,331 votes were cast of a total of 3,675 registered voters.

Click video to hear audio