Sure, give that concept a test spin. Withhold results of a Faulkner County election until the vote totals have been certified by the Election Commission.
Let us know how it works out.
As if we can’t forecast that calamity.
Did a man of reason and intelligence really float such an absurd idea? Yes. He is a lawyer, but try and look beyond that.
Maybe such nonsensical notions can be a by-product of a rigid defensive posture, which is what commission Chairman Frank Shaw assumed from the outset of Tuesday’s commission meeting.
The panel gathered to certify the results of last week’s primary election, a housekeeping rite that proved secondary to the real business at hand: Toss anyone or anything under the bus in an effort to preserve the integrity of the commission; to protect the political interests of the county clerk and her office; and to guard the local election process in general. A daunting task, no doubt. One surely suited for a courtroom-styled orator and champion of truth and justice.
Election snafus are not as rare as we may think, or even care to believe. Stuff happens, but it’s usually innocent, traceable and fixable. This isn’t a Conway County in the 1950s scenario anymore. You’d hardly know it, though, judging from the sky-is-almost-falling passion with which Shaw and a few others addressed a primary night gaffe that not only left 759 votes floating in the proverbial black hole, but also produced some bruised feelings. The votes apparently fell victim to some sort of equipment problems. The votes were retrieved and counted, however, and thankfully did not alter the outcome of any races, although the incident did induce finger-pointing and political bickering.
Shaw’s blame game included the media -- more accurately, the press — suggesting that the election night process ran afoul because media outlets were circling like starved vultures in their thirst for results. He said he felt that the commission and county clerk’s office fell victim to undue criticism, a revolutionary process of sorts that began because the press reported wrong election numbers.
Here’s some insight:
On election night, we were juggling two sets of results -- one courtesy of the commission and the office of County Clerk Melinda Reynolds, and the other from the secretary of state’s web site. Neither set matched, which was both puzzling and maddening because the secretary of state’s office receives its numbers electronically from county clerk offices.
Come Wednesday morning, we had three sets of numbers — the original Tuesday night set from county officials, a revised Wednesday morning set from county officials, and the original set from the secretary of state’s web site. And guess what? Neither set matched.
When told of the predicament, a spokesman in the secretary of state’s office replied, "Are you kidding?" We chose a succinct answer: "No."
Then, an employee in the county clerk’s office replied, "Hold on a minute." After a wait of several minutes, the employee advised that we rely on the secretary of state’s numbers for the time being. "We’ve had some problems," the employee said.
Reporting wrong numbers? Given the circumstances, please define correct.
This was an election, not a "Let’s Make A Deal" appearance. We didn’t want to guess what host Monte Hall was hiding behind door number three. Just some accurate, albeit unofficial, results.
Back at Tuesday’s meeting, meanwhile, it didn’t sound like Reynolds much cared for remarks from Chris Carnahan, the newest election commissioner and lone Republican representative on the three-man panel. He suggested that Reynolds advise the commission anytime there is a problem. He also thinks that anyone in Reynolds’ office who works with an election should attend commission meetings in case questions arise.
Light the political fuse.
Reynolds is a longtime Democrat and completing her 10th two-year term. Carnahan, now a local deputy prosecutor, is a former executive director of the Arkansas Republican Party, so he’s no stranger to political squabbles. Shaw is a Democrat and no doubt felt the need to defend Reynolds, who has drawn a formidable general election foe in Mark Vaught. He is a Republican candidate who has had a successful tenure on the Conway City Council. There are observers, Democrats included, who believe Vaught will present Reynolds with a general election challenge like she hasn’t experienced.
We’ll anxiously await the outcome of that race and others in November. Hopefully on election night.