Feuding is perpetual in Jefferson County between the generally Democratic slate of officeholders and Stu Soffer, a Republican who’s
Latest dispute: stems from bipartisan legislation that was part of Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin’s legislative package. Sponsors included Rep. Vivian Flower (D-Pine Bluff.) It says, in part:
7-5-904. Election commissioners.
– (a) A member of the State Board of Election Commissioners or a county board of election commissioners shall not serve as a poll worker or a poll watcher on behalf of an individual candidate, political party, or ballot initiative.
(b) A person shall not simultaneously serve on the State Board of Election Commissioners and a county board of election commissioners.
Soffer continues to be a member of both county and state
It’s nice to see Chris Burks is maintaining his standard of spreading false information to the media, I would expect nothing less from the Democratic Party of Arkansas.
The reason the Democrats are again focusing on me is because of events in Jefferson County with the new county judge who is up for reelection. He barely won his runoff last time by only 121 votes under questionable circumstances during early voting. We have court house security video of his son and the same guy who Burkes connives with in Jefferson County inside of the early voting machine area after early voting ended handling PEB’s in consort with the poll judge. That video is available if you would care to view it. This county judge has unsuccessfully tried to intimidate then hijack the election commission and we are awaiting a circuit court decision regarding that issue. So Burkes current initiative was not unanticipated.
I am not in violation of Act 1014 of 2017 by holding both election commissions positions at this time because the same rule applies as when term limits were passed. I was an incumbent when the Act was passed. It did not contain an emergency, retroactive or incumbent removal clause. I don’t have to make a decision until January 2019 when my county election commissioner term is up. It is my intention to fully comply with the law and as long as I am a county election commissioner that includes not serving as a poll watcher.
Thanks for asking,
I’m no lawyer. I don’t see where the new law provides an exception for Soffer. Burks is a lawyer. His response includes both law and the do-right rule:
“The Republican Party of Arkansas is openly violating election laws by flouting Act 1014 of 2017. This is just another sad Republican attempt to politicize what should be a non-partisan system that protects all Arkansans’ voting rights. Their defense that Act 1014 does not contain an “incumbent removal clause” is wrong. U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995), shows why the Republicans are wrong. U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton is the United States Supreme Court case on Arkansas term limits.
The Supreme Court found that the Arkansas term limit law applied only “to all persons seeking election after January 1, 1993.”
Unlike Amendment 73 the term limit law, Act 1014 intentionally did not have a clause applying it only to those elected at some point in the future. There is no specific category of Commissioners to which Act 1014 might apply at some point in the future. Instead, Act 1014 applies today.
Thus, the Republican argument that “the same rule that applied when term limits were passed” is wrong. Act 1014 is very clear: “no person shall simultaneously serve” in two positions. Further, State Board of Election Commissioner positions are not an “elected office” entitling an “office holder” to a property right in a specific term in office. They are appointed positions that must operate within the law of the State of Arkansas.
Even in the event that a court found Act 1014 did not yet apply, why would the Republicans not want to remove the appearance of impropriety now? Why are they having such a controversial figure hang onto power now in a system that should be non-partisan? Why are they working with Mark Martin to send voter information to Washington D.C.?
Voting is a fundamental right. Those that protect that fundamental right should be above reproach.”
I think I’ll regret wading into Jefferson County, but there you go.