Arkansas

Articles about voting issues in Arkansas.

Arkansas: Funds pose vote-gear hurdle for Arkansas counties | Kat Stromquist and Michael R. Wickline/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Pulaski County officials are reviewing a roughly $1.56 million contribution needed to buy new voting equipment, funds they say aren’t in the budget. The payment — which would be in addition to state funds set to be distributed to 21 counties through Secretary of State John Thurston’s office — has caught officials off guard, according to Barry Hyde, county judge of Pulaski County. The state has asked the largest county by population to put up a dollar-for-dollar match, which is intended to split the purchase price of about $3.1 million in new voting equipment. That’s an issue for the county, its circuit clerk and its election commission, who say the expense isn’t feasible at this time.

Full Article: Funds pose vote-gear hurdle for Arkansas counties.

Arkansas: Official doubtful on state election aid | Dale Ellis/Arkansas Democrat & Gazette

The announcement of money from the state for counties to purchase new voting equipment has left a Jefferson County election commissioner less than enthusiastic. Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stu Soffer says the county has no money to meet the matching requirement. “We do not see a light at the end of the tunnel on new voting equipment,” Soffer said. On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that $8.24 million had been provided to the secretary of state’s office to allow counties to improve voting equipment, programming and maintenance. A day earlier, during a meeting at the Arkansas Association of Counties, Kurt Naumann, director of administration and legislative affairs in the secretary of state’s office, told several dozen county officials that the office expected to receive these funds in mid-August from the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Full Article: Official doubtful on state election aid.

Arkansas: Voting upgrade money granted, Hutchinson says | Michael R. Wickline/Arkansas Democrat & Gazette

Gov. Asa Hutchison said Thursday that $8.24 million in state funds was provided to the secretary of state’s office this week to allow counties to improve voting equipment, programming and maintenance. The Republican governor’s announcement in a news release came a day after Kurt Naumann, director of administration and legislative affairs in the secretary of state’s office, told several dozen county officials that the office expected to receive these funds in mid-August from the state Department of Finance and Administration.. The transfer was allowed under Act 808 of 2019. Hutchinson said the money was transferred out of excess revenues in the property tax relief trust fund, financed by a half-cent sales tax to pay for the homestead property tax credit, to the secretary of state’s office. The money will be awarded to counties through the county voting system grant fund. Act 808 also increases the homestead property tax credit from $350 to $375 per homestead and allows other excess revenues in the property tax relief fund to be shifted to the state’s Long-Term Reserve Fund.

Full Article: Voting upgrade money granted, Hutchinson says.

Arkansas: Some vote upgrades unsure – 21 counties lack new machines; some say cash too short | Michael R. Wickline/Arkansas Democrat & Gazette

Officials in the secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that they would like to install new voting equipment by the March 3 primary election in the 21 counties that don’t have it. But the office’s elections director, Leslie Bellamy, told officials from these counties that they won’t have new equipment for next year’s election cycle if Republican Secretary of State John Thurston decides to rebid the purchase, as had been suggested. In 2015, Thurston’s predecessor, Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, decided to purchase a statewide integrated voting system, including new voting equipment, through Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software rather than California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions or Texas-based Hart Inter-Civic. Officials from some counties disagreed on whether Thurston should seek new bids. Officials from other counties said their counties are so cash-strapped that they won’t be able to match state funds for new equipment.

Full Article: Some vote upgrades unsure.

Arkansas: House approves provisional ballot bill | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Legislation regarding the procedure for casting provisional ballots passed the House on Monday, even after concerns were raised by some lawmakers as to what the law would do. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Harlan Breaux, R-Holiday Island, struggled to answer several questions posed by his colleagues. At one point, he attempted to leave the well of the House floor while being pressed for more details. Breaux was running Senate Bill 159, which is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville. The bill would eliminate the portion of state law that requires poll workers to remove the stubs from provisional ballots and to keep those stubs in a separate box. Provisional ballots are cast when poll workers challenge a voter’s eligibility, and the voter signs an affidavit that he is legally registered to vote. Election officials later check the validity of the voter’s claim.

Full Article: Arkansas House approves ballot-stub bill.

Arkansas: Aging volunteers an election worry for Arkansas; fewer serving in newer generations | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Election officials are concerned with the aging of the poll workers they rely on to run elections and are looking for ways to recruit younger workers. Washington County’s Election Commission discussed the issue at last week’s meeting. Jennifer Price, election director, sent the commissioners information she included in a report to the state about last November’s election. Washington County had three poll workers from ages 18 to 24, according to Price. In the group from 25 to 40, the county had 17 workers. The county had 63 poll workers from 41 to 60 and 129 from 61 to 70. The largest number in any age group was 166 who were 71 or older. The commission was aware of the age of most poll workers generally, from observation over time, but hadn’t seen the numbers until Price sent the report to them. “When you see it in print, it really jumps out at you,” Price said.

Full Article: Aging volunteers an election worry for Arkansas; fewer serving in newer generations.

Arkansas: Old voting machines divisive issue for Jefferson County | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Election commissioners in Jefferson County are at an impasse over the need to replace the county’s antiquated voting machines and the cost to replace them. The county currently uses iVotronics voting machines and software supplied by Election Systems & Software in its 39 polling sites. It owns about 150 machines that are kept in the Election Commission office in Pine Bluff. Commissioner Stu Soffer recently presented a proposal from Election Systems & Software for the purchase of 140 ExpressVote voting machines, the latest model of electronic voting machines available from the company. Included in the proposal were 140 ExpressVote kiosks, 43 model DS200 vote tabulators, 74 printers and 74 tablet computers, as well as all related software and training.The total cost for the hardware, software and support services included in the proposal was $882,361,52. Post-warranty license, maintenance and support fees would add an additional $42,201 annually.

Full Article: Old voting machines divisive issue for county in Arkansas.

Arkansas: Ballot errors among glitches in Pulaski County’s voting | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Pulaski County faced numerous problems on Election Day, including handing out about 250 wrong ballots to Sherwood voters. At the Duran Youth Center polling station in Sherwood, workers gave about 250 voters ballots with the race for Ward 1 though those people were not residents of Ward 1. Sherwood council member Ken Keplinger and April Ford Broderick were the candidates for the position. Keplinger lost to Ford Broderick by 551 votes, according to election results. A voter notified the county election commission about 1:30 p.m about the problem on Election Day, Poe said. The ballots had been going out since polls opened at 7:30 a.m. “I mean, we’re thankful that that person called in,” Poe said. There is no recourse for the mistake because Arkansas law does not address the situation, said Pat Hays, chairman of the election commission. “It’s probably about the most unfortunate thing I’ve seen in my time on the commission,” Hays said.

Full Article: Ballot errors among glitches in Pulaski County's voting.

Arkansas: Ballots mixed in few state elections; some voters hit ID snags at polls | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Phillips County voters said they cast the wrong ballots in the Marvell mayoral election Tuesday because ballots for people inside and outside the city limits were mixed up. In the highly contested race for Marvell mayor, rural voters received city ballots and city voters got county ballots. The county ballots did not include candidates for mayor. Amanda Moody, who lives in the city, said she went to vote about 8 a.m. and realized after voting that she hadn’t been able to vote for mayor. There are three candidates in this year’s election. “I just hope something gets rectified,” Moody said.

Full Article: Ballots mixed in few state elections; some voters hit ID snags at polls.

Arkansas: State Supreme Court upholds revised voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ highest court on Thursday upheld a voter ID law that is nearly identical to a restriction struck down by the court four years ago. The 5-2 decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court means the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, will remain in effect in this year’s midterm election. Unlike the measure struck down in 2014, the law approved last year allows voters to cast provisional ballots without a photo ID if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities. Opponents of the new measure had argued that it circumvented the 2014 ruling. But justices on Thursday said lawmakers had the power to enact the restriction by labeling it a change to a constitutional amendment related to voter registration requirements and was “therefore constitutional.”

Full Article: Arkansas Supreme Court upholds revised voter ID law | Miami Herald.

Arkansas: Voter ID law before the Arkansas Supreme Court | Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the state’s appeal of a ruling invalidating the voter ID law passed in 2017. Judge Alice Gray enjoined the law as an unconstitutional addition of a restriction on voting, but the Supreme Court earlier stayed that order and the law was put in place in primary voting. Jeff Priebe, attorney for the plaintiff, Barry Haas, in a public interest lawsuit, argued that the 2017 law was an attempt to circumvent a similar law passed in 2014 that was struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court. A change was made that allowed voters who didn’t have an ID to cast a provisional ballot and sign an affidavit and the vote is supposed to be counted unless other problems are found.

Full Article: Voter ID law before the Arkansas Supreme Court | Arkansas Blog.

Arkansas: Groups ask court to disqualify Arkansas term limits proposal | Associated Press

An effort to impose the strictest term limits in the nation on Arkansas’ Legislature was challenged Wednesday by two industry groups that asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify the proposed limits from the November ballot. Arkansans for Common Sense Term Limits, a campaign formed by the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the state Chamber of Commerce, filed the lawsuit with the state high court over the proposed constitutional amendment on term limits. The measure would limit Arkansas lawmakers to two four-year terms in the Senate and three two-year terms in the House, with a total cap of 10 years in office. Arkansas lawmakers are currently limited to a total of 16 years in the House, Senate or a combination of both.

Full Article: Groups ask court to disqualify Arkansas term limits proposal | The Kansas City Star.

Arkansas: Proposed cap for terms gets on state ballot | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state lawmakers to serving a maximum of 10 years qualified for the Nov. 6 general election ballot, an official in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. The Arkansas Term Limits committee’s ballot proposal also would limit lawmakers to serving three two-year terms as a state representative, two four-year terms as a senator or any terms that would exceed a total of 10 years in the General Assembly. The amendment wouldn’t affect members of Congress. If approved by voters, Arkansas’ legislative term limits would be the strictest in the nation, said John Mahoney, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Full Article: Proposed cap for terms gets on state ballot.

Arkansas: Attorney general approves form of proposal to change legislative redistricting | Arkansas Blog

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday approved the form of a proposed constitutional amendment to change the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn every 10 years. This is a good idea, if far removed from reality at this moment. The proposal was submitted by Skip Cook on behalf of Arkansans for Governmental Reform. He’s been active in politics, particularly as a term limits advocate. He’s taking up here an idea that has had growing support around the U.S. — independent districting commissions.  They are meant to cure partisan gerrymandering and, in some places, have produced cohesive, geographically sensible district lines that have cut both ways in impact on partisan interests.

Full Article: Attorney general approves form of proposal to change legislative redistricting | Arkansas Blog.

Arkansas: Ballot Proposal On Redistricting Approved By Attorney General | KUAR

A ballot initiative to change state legislative and U.S. Congressional redistricting in Arkansas has been approved by the Attorney General. The Arkansas Citizens Redistricting Amendment would establish a seven-member citizens redistricting commission to replace the state Board of Apportionment, a committee made up of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state that currently draws state legislative redistricting lines. “Things are a little different in Arkansas than in other states in that it is this three statewide elected officials who have the power, rather than the legislature itself, over the drawing of state legislative district lines,” explains Jay Barth, a political scientist at Hendrix College.

Full Article: Ballot Proposal On Redistricting Approved By Attorney General | KUAR.

Arkansas: Group submits petitions calling for term limits in state | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The sponsors of a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state lawmakers to serving 10 years said Friday that they have collected more than 135,000 signatures of registered voters in their attempt to qualify their measure for the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Thomas Steele of Little Rock, chairman of the Arkansas Term Limits committee, signed an affidavit stating that the committee turned in 135,590 signatures on parts of 19,714 petitions to the secretary of state’s office. To qualify for the ballot, sponsors of constitutional amendments are required to collect 84,859 signatures of registered voters. Friday was the deadline for sponsors of ballot measures to turn in their petitions.

Full Article: Group submits petitions calling for term limits in state.

Arkansas: Voting machine upgrades cause issues between county, state | El Dorado News Times

Citing too many unanswered questions, the Union County Quorum Court voted 8-2 Thursday to table a discussion about the possibility of receiving new voting machines from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. The issue began earlier this year, when the state began to offer assistance to counties to purchase new voting machines. But in Union County, that offer has been rescinded more than once, leaving local officials unsure of how to proceed. Officials also voiced concerns with replacing equipment before the November election. Last month, Union County Judge Mike Loftin received a letter from Kelly Boyd, chief deputy Secretary of State, offering the county new voting machines for elections, for which the state would pay 50 percent of the costs. The letter stated that the total cost for the new machines for Union County would be around $440,000, using Election System & Software (ES&S).

Full Article: El Dorado News Times Voting machine upgrades cause issues between county, state.

Arkansas: State, counties working to upgrade election gear | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The secretary of state’s office believes that just over two-thirds of the state’s counties will have new voting equipment by the time of the November general election. In one of the latest developments, the office has signed contracts with 10 counties to provide new voting equipment to them with the counties and the state splitting the tab, the chief deputy in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. Chief Deputy Kelly Boyd said he expects similar contracts to be signed with 11 other counties soon, and on top of that, 10 other counties are working with the office to finalize voting equipment requirements to clear the way for signing contracts. Twenty-one of the state’s 75 counties used the new voting equipment provided by Nebraska’s Election Systems & Software during the May 22 primaries, he said.

Full Article: State, counties working to upgrade election gear.

Arkansas: Lonoke County Voters Push for More Training after ‘Fiasco’ at Polls during Primary Election | FOX16

Problems at polling places on primary night in Lonoke County have many voters pushing for more training across the state. The Democratic Party of Arkansas has filed several complaints over issues there, with at least one more on its way from a former state lawmaker. The party first filed a lawsuit on election day, demanding all Lonoke County polling places remain open until 10 p.m., which was two and a half hours after they were supposed to close.  Chief of Staff Taylor Riddle said Democrats could not vote for the first three hours of regular voting at the England Rec Center because machines were not set up and they had only Republican and non-partisan paper ballots. The Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately denied the party’s request so it filed a complaint with the State Board of Election Commissioners.

Full Article: Lonoke Co. Voters Push for More Training after 'Fiasco' at Polls during Primary Election - FOX16.

Arkansas: Lack of paper trail an election concern | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

All but two of the 75 counties in Arkansas use voting machines that create paper copies of each ballot cast. Clerks in Union and Ouachita counties said they’ve never had a problem with their voting equipment. Election security experts have raised concerns about voting devices that don’t produce receipts for individual voters because the lack of those receipts makes it hard to ensure no votes were manipulated. Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford acknowledged those concerns are the biggest drawback to his county’s current voting machines, which the county plans to replace before the general election in November.

Full Article: Lack of paper trail an election concern.