BACKLASH: Alex Reeds remarks draw response from county clerks.

  • BACKLASH: Alex Reed’s remarks draw response from county clerks.

The bipartisan Arkansas Association of County Clerks has issued a statement taking exception to remarks by Secretary of State Mark Martin‘s aide, Alex Reed, suggesting county clerks were at fault for registration of illegal immigrants as voters in Arkansas. He said election of Republicans would cure things in speaking to a group of Union County Republicans.

Here’s the whole rundown of those remarks.

The statement:

The Arkansas Association of County Clerks polled its members this week in an effort to investigate recent claims by Secretary of State staffer Alex Reed that the state has an issue with illegal immigrants registering to vote. The association polled all 75 counties across the state.

“When Mr. Reed’s allegations first surfaced, we did not perceive there to be an issue with illegal immigrants registering to vote in our courthouses across Arkansas,” said Rhonda Cole, Arkansas Association of County Clerks president and Clark County Clerk. “However, rather than simply reacting in the heat of the moment to these comments, we thought it would be in the best interest of Arkansas taxpayers to have a conversation statewide among county clerks. In doing so, we found no evidence of illegal immigrants registering to vote.”

“I’m a proud Republican, but what’s important to me as a county clerk is to serve the people of Arkansas and my community regardless of political views,” said Crystal Graddy, Arkansas Association of County Clerks secretary and Boone County Clerk. “I am disappointed by the comments and the ensuing false perception of county clerks. I think it is vital to represent your office in a nonpartisan manner. I certainly don’t ask taxpayers that come into our office if they are Democrat or Republican.”

Cole, who is a Democrat, echoed her fellow clerk’s comments concerning county clerks and partisan politics.

“The county clerks association works with Republicans and Democrats alike,” Cole said. “County clerks are hard-working public servants who are in the trenches ensuring fair, legal and efficient elections and they do an outstanding job. We’re here to serve the taxpayers regardless of political affiliations and the Association of Arkansas County Clerks emphatically supports our members and their performance. To describe county clerks or their actions as ‘disgraceful’ is unjust, unwarranted and uninformed.”

The Association of Arkansas County Clerks is a nonpartisan organization focused on providing a medium for exchange of ideas and instituting and promoting training and education of county clerks in the latest and most efficient methods of public administration.

I’ve sought a response from Martin’s office.

UPDATE: SOS spokesman Mark Myers responded:

If Ms. Cole would like to discuss this issue with me, then I am happy to discuss it with her. We have said all we are going to say to you on this issue. You can refer to my previous comments about the office’s position vis-a-vis the clerks’ performance.

Meanwhile, a Times’ editorial this week has a comment on the matter.

UPDATE: Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane has also called for an apology from Mark Martin’s office and complains about the quality of assistance his office has received from the secretary of state. He said the office had been tardy in providing lists of deceased voters so they could be removed from rolls. I got a real response on this one.