Long lines, parking probs reported at county's only two polling places opened for tight Democratic U.S. Senate run-off primary...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2010, 2:44pm PT  

As we flagged last night, early reports today are that the concerns about the polling place fiasco in Garland County, Arkansas, have now "come to full flower."

Garland Election Commissioner Charles Tapp had unilaterally (without the vote of his two other commissioners) decided to reduce the number of polling locations from 42 during the general primary on May 18th, to just 2 for today's run-off primary.

The decision is expected to most drastically affect Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who did exceptionally well in the county during the general Democratic primary in his now-very-tight race against incumbent U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.

After Tapp had announced that an additional polling place would be opened last Saturday for early voting to ease the expected crowds today, he changed his mind at the last moment, and "hundreds of voters" are said to have shown up on Saturday, without being allowed to vote.

Today, long lines and parking problems are being reported at the county's only two open polling places, after 12,000 had cast votes in the general primary on May 8th...

Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times calls it a "cluster#@%*":

The mess that Garland County Election Commission made has come to full flower. A voting rights activist reports long lines and parking problems at the two — count 'em, two — polling places that the Commission decided to open for runoff voting. It closed 40 other polls to save money despite the fact that every voter in the county, where some 12,000 voted in the first primary, has three statewide races to consider.

There's one poll in Hot Springs, at the election commission, and one in Hot Springs Village (beyond the community's access gates). If it's a close election and Bill Halter loses, somebody is going to howl, given Blanche Lincoln's poor showing in Garland in the first primary. She got only about 40 percent of the vote.

Those in line by 7:30 still may be able to vote. One question, however, may be what constitutes a line. Confident that Commission Chairman Charles Tapp and Co. will have a good answer?

Michael Whitney at firedoglake has a bit more:

This county went heavily for Halter in a three-way race – a full 3% of his total haul on primary day came from the county’s 42 polling places. Now that all the county’s voters will be funneled into just two polling places, voters with tight schedules could decide to go home rather than face the “long lines and parking problems” already evident.
UPDATE: Reports from Arkansas indicate that after Halter volunteers spent the morning trying to direct the huge amount of traffic at the two polling places, the state police have been called in to try to alleviate the massive parking problems.

It is simply inexcusable that outgoing Sec. of State Charlie Daniels did not step into this mess to clean it up long ago, late last week when it had already become more than clear what was about to happen.

"Cluster#@%*," indeed.