Members of the Faulkner County Election Commission and County Clerk Melinda Reynolds held an open forum on Saturday morning at the Faulkner County Courthouse, with an audience comprised primarily of poll workers.
The purpose of the forum was to provide an opportunity for voters, candidates, election and political workers to discuss the election process, things that have gone wrong during past elections and ideas on improving election processes.
“We want to have more of these open forums. We want to be progressive and proactive,” commission Chairman Frank Shaw said. “We all have the same goal here, and that is to hold open, free, fair and transparent elections.”
Audience members voiced concerns on handling voter registration issues at the poll, absentee ballots, poll worker training, the need for additional precinct maps and signage at voting precincts and other election process issues.
Shaw also reported to the audience that a meeting last week with the State Board of Election Commissioners was the result of a reprimand and threat by the state board to the election commission and “about forty other counties in the state,” to withhold from the county election certain funds due to the late filing of an election report.
“I’m new at this. I’ve only been with the commission since February, but it was my fault. I didn’t even know about it,” Shaw said. Shaw said the report was due on May 28, only a few days after the May elections were held, and that one overseas ballot had not been returned until May 28.
“Had the report been filed by midnight on the deadline, it still would have been incomplete. It wouldn’t have represented every vote,” Shaw said. “I think this is an example of one of the things that the state needs to look at.”
Commissioner H.G. Foster agreed. “There’s a problem when there is a deadline and a due date, and they’re on the same day.”
Shaw said the issue was resolved at the meeting and the county would receive the funds in question.
Also present at the meeting were Ron Hill and Andre Acklin, opposing candidates for a five-year term for the Position 1 seat on the Conway School Board, and Rickey “Tadpole” Harrington, a candidate running for Justice of the Peace in District 2.
Five elections will be held in Faulkner County this year, including the annual school board elections on Sept. 21, the Nov. 2 general election and general election runoffs three weeks later.
Shaw said the commission is working on plans to host an upcoming candidate forum later in the year to include representatives from all parties.
For more information on voting and the Faulkner County Election Commission, visit www.votefaulkner.com.
(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by phone at (501) 505-1277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net.)