After a second meeting of the Faulkner County Election Commission uncovered more questions than answers, Commission Chairman Frank Shaw pleaded for an agreement involving County Clerk Melinda Reynolds to be in charge of the preparation of the ballots for the general election.
Reynolds said she would do what the election commission wanted her to do, but she said, "There is no way I can do this without some help."
In a previous meeting by the commission, questions arose concerning Reynolds’ involvement in the ballot procedures, and at one point she was not going to be a part of that area of the election. But with November drawing near, Shaw has presented a scenario that would allow Reynolds to prepare the 159 separate ballots, which could then be proofread by party chairmen, candidates and other interested parties.
"We need someone who has done this before," Shaw said. "But we also need a system in place where we can get things fixed before people begin to vote."
Reynolds is opposed for the clerk’s position by Conway Alderman Mark Vaught. Vaught has stated he is not opposed to having Reynolds be the person who prepares the ballot. But some in the Republican party have voiced concerns over what they say is a violation of a statute in the election handbook.
Doug House, who is running for State House District 40 as a Republican, stated that he needed to be assured that all election materials would be delivered to poll workers by someone other than Reynolds or someone from her office, citing a statute that says an elected official or their deputy cannot deliver election materials.
"I want the statute to be followed," House said. "And I think it would serve Madam Clerk because if something were to go wrong, we would not be able to point a finger at an elected official and say they had done something intentionally wrong."
The possibility of an election coordinator was brought up, but county ordinance said that such a position would be hired by the county judge, and that would make the coordinator a deputy of an elected official.
"There are rules and regulations in this [election handbook] that are in direct contradiction to each other," Shaw said.
Reynolds also pointed out that the poll workers would have to start their machines and tabulations at zero anyway, so there would be no way to gain an advantage.