The hypothetical marriage between those on opposing sides of the upcoming general election took a contentious turn Monday evening during yet another meeting to iron out differences in the voting process. If this were an actual marriage, we’d definitely be at the "Dr. Phil" stage.
What we seem to have are two parties wanting the other to budge on certain measures involving voting procedures, machine testing and transparency. Actually, both parties have stated that transparency is the ultimate goal. It’s everything else they seem to bicker over.
Chief among them is the involvement of Faulkner County Clerk Melinda Reynolds in the process. Reynolds has an opponent in the election in the form of Conway Alderman Mark Vaught, and people from the right side of the aisle have wondered aloud if she should step away from this particular task.
Although every single person at these meetings has said that Reynolds’ character is above reproach as far as the ethics of programming machines and overseeing the election, it hasn’t stopped the grumbles of those — mainly from election commissioner Chris Carnahan — who feel like she doesn’t need to be involved.
Vaught himself has said he has no problem with Reynolds operating the election. He has also said if it were him, he would remove himself from the process. We seem to agree, if not for anything else, just to save the clerk some unneeded grief.
But it doesn’t stop there. A four-page document from Doug House, a candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives, points out several "problems" and solutions that he would like to see implemented. Some of them seem reasonable, such as documenting each machine’s serial number so we know exactly where each machine is located. Others, like adhering to the word "shall" in a particular election law that would require all candidates or representatives to verify machines prior to them being delivered. This word "shall" is different from "may" and gives those candidates a direct order. In short, it is written badly.
There are too many people yelling to "follow the letter of the law" without figuring out if the law or statute is not even logically sound. "Following the letter of the law" is a great thing to say at rallies, but without applying any common sense logic, it becomes a waste of time.
The people of Faulkner County deserve better than a broken marriage filled with bickering.