Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jake Bequette announced Wednesday (May 11) that he has filed a lawsuit against election officials for his name appearing incorrectly on ballots in Craighead and Phillips counties. In those counties, he was identified as “Jack Bequette” instead of “Jake Bequette.”
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court and seeks an “immediate permanent injunction” as well as orders for state and local election officials to correct his name on the ballot and to “provide uniform statewide notice to all Republican voters in the state of Arkansas of the misidentification.”
Defendants in the case include Secretary of State John Thurston, the State Board of Election Commissioners, and the Craighead County Election Commission. No one from Phillips County is listed as a defendant.
Bequette is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. for the Republican nomination for Senate. Heath Loftis and Jan Morgan are also vying for the GOP Senate nomination.
“John Boozman and the Arkansas political establishment couldn’t beat me with endorsements, they couldn’t beat me with millions of dollars in false attack ads, and they wouldn’t even try to beat me on the debate stage, so now they’re trying to beat me by stealing this election. Election integrity is a critical issue in our state and our country, and Arkansans deserve a Senator who will bring this issue to the forefront. The people of Arkansas have seen proof over the course of the campaign that, at my core, I am a warrior. I will fight this corruption in court and on the campaign trail, and I think the people of Arkansas will support me in this battle. This fight is only beginning,” Bequette said.
He contends that election officials admitted that erroneous ballots were already sent out to voters in multiple counties who requested absentee ballots and are voting by mail. Jennifer Clack, Craighead County election coordinator, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it was a human error but not enough time existed to correct the mistake. She said the county put up signs at all early voting sites with a correction.
Bequette’s grievance also included a lack of notification about the error. He said election officials discovered the error on April 28th, but never notified his campaign or the media.
“…there is no remedy, so the damage there is already done. This is not just about my campaign and this election – I don’t want this to happen to any candidate in Arkansas ever again. We will get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Bequette called on Sen. Boozman to join him in demanding a full investigation. Boozman’s campaign declined to comment.
UPDATE: On Thursday, Bequette added Phillips County election officials to the lawsuit.