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Tuesday, May 23, 2006 

Lagrone Praises “Heroic” Efforts of County Clerks

Lagrone Press Release

BENTONVILLE – (Monday, May 22, 2006)
– During a campaign stop on Monday in Bentonville, Jim Lagrone, the Republican Secretary of State candidate, held a news conference to praise county clerks statewide for their efforts to ensure a smooth Primary Election.

“I have traveled every corner of this state observing the problems faced by county clerks and have to say that if the election runs smoothly tomorrow, it will be specifically due to the heroic efforts of these people – and the voters need to know and appreciate this, because I certainly do,” said Lagrone.

“They have worked an incredible amount of hours trying to overcome the obstacles needlessly thrown in their path by the Secretary of State’s office and ES&S. They’ve overcome problems of equipment memory cards not delivered on time and/or delivered with faulty programming, election ballots not printed and/or printed incorrectly, and repeated failures of the touch-screen machines to work properly, just to name a few.

“I am praising these people for their efforts today,” said Lagrone, “because it has come to my attention that the Secretary of State’s office is contacting county clerks across the state and telling them that I am personally blaming them for the debacle. I have also been told that representatives from ES&S have been calling county clerks and election commissioners and warning them against talking any further to members of the media about the problems before the Primary Election.

“I not only deny the slanderous allegation that I blame county clerks for this debacle, I am appalled that instead of working hard to make sure our Primary Election runs smoothly, the Secretary of State and his buddies at ES&S seem to be working overtime smothering the real truth about what’s going in these elections,” said Lagrone.

“In the past three weeks I have personally visited with 25 county clerks from across the state. At least five of the clerks, including one from Northwest Arkansas, personally told me that the secretary of state told them I am blaming the county clerks for the election problems.

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Lagrone/Add One

“Let me make this perfectly clear. I blame no one but Charlie Daniels,” emphasized Lagrone. “He’s had three years to comply with HAVA. To this point, he has spent three million dollars on ES&S machinery and yet tomorrow the majority of our citizens will be voting on a paper ballot – which is the same old way they’ve always done it,” he said.

“The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed by Congress in 2002. Our Secretary of State has had years to bring our state into compliance but he waited until this past November to deal with this issue – and even then selected a company recommended by his political party, versus the company recommended by a committee appointed to make the recommendation.

“Daniels obviously thinks he can cover his tracks by doing what he’s become good at – blaming someone else for his lack of oversight and attention,” emphasizes Lagrone. “In addition, he has yet to tell the state of Arkansas and the voters how much these mistakes are going to cost us.

“When the voting problems first began to surface, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted Daniels as saying that the buck stopped with him. But when it became clear the problem was more than a few machines not working properly, Daniels started blaming ES&S for the problems,” says Lagrone. “And now he’s blaming me. One can only wonder who he’ll blame next.

“This has become more than an election issue with me,” concluded Lagrone. “It’s an integrity issue. We have a Secretary of State who lacks integrity in his professional and campaign dealings. Is it any wonder our system is in disarray?”

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