The state Board of Election Commissioners would be shifted to the secretary of state’s office under legislation that cleared an Arkansas Senate committee on Tuesday. The board would be under the direction and supervision of the secretary of state’s office but would exercise its powers, duties and functions independently of the office under Senate Bill 368 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest. The board would no longer be allowed to appoint a director, who could hire staff. The board’s mission is to improve the conduct of elections by promoting fair and orderly procedures through education, assistance and monitoring, according to the board’s website. The board is chaired by Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin and composed of six other members — two appointed by the governor and one each appointed by the chairman of the state Democratic Party, the chairman of the state Republican Party, the Senate president pro tempore and the House speaker. King told the Senate Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee that his bill would make state government more efficient by saving money while still getting the election duties executed.
He said some critics of his legislation claim that Martin is a partisan, “but he’s elected by the people of the state of Arkansas,” and King noted that Martin received more votes than any statewide officeholder in the 2014 election.
Kelly Boyd, chief deputy for the secretary of state, said King’s legislation is an “efficiency bill” under which the office would assume the administrative role for the board. Martin would remain board chairman, but the board would operate independently, Boyd said.
Boyd said the bill would save more than $600,000 a year in maintenance and operations funding. He also said the bill would save a total of $10.6 million over the biennium. The board is allowed up to seven employees and is also appropriated money for election expenses.
Full Article: Bill assigns election board to secretary of state.