BLYTHEVILLE, AR (abc24.com) - It's decision day in Arkansas and one race for the State House of Representatives is being watched closely.
A pair of Democrats from District 55 are fighting for the party's nomination. That district represents Mississippi County and a portion of Crittenden County. Many fear that absentee ballots are being abused by one or both campaigns to get an edge.
The high number of absentee ballots in the runoff between Mary Shipley and Monte Hodges is raising concerns of possible voter fraud and a repeat of what AR State Police are investigating in Crittenden County.
“We're talking about 500 absentee ballots,” said Mississippi County Clerk Lib Shippen.
Shippen was one of the first to sound the alarm: could those 500 absentee ballots taint the election?
“I'm not sure they always get to the voter and I have the same concern about the ones that are mailed out. I'm concerned that some of them have been intercepted based on comments made to me,” Shippen said.
It's a situation eerily similar to last year's Democratic Primary runoff in Crittenden County where an election commissioner reported an unusually high number of absentee votes for Hudson Hallum and suspicious stories about how he may have gotten them. State Police are still investigating.
Now in Mississippi County, Shippen is concerned. "Well, I think it could be happening now. I'm not real sure what's going on."
“It's not a problem whatsoever,” countered Mississippi County Election Commission Chairman George Hale.
Hale says even though there are more absentee ballots than normal, he and fellow commissioners will make sure the voting process isn't tainted.
“If we determine that someone has broken the law, it's our duty to inform someone,” Hale said.
Both Monte Hodges and Mary Gay Shipley say they're concerned about possible voting irregularities and hope any shady dealings are brought to light.
The election results should be certified by Friday.