I checked today with City Attorney Tom Carpenter to confirm my understanding of requirements to be elected mayor, given this year’s five-way race and the chance no candidate will receive a majority of the votes.

If there’s no majority vote winner, a candidate must gain 40 percent of the vote to win. This is established by statute and enabling ordinance, Carpenter said. There’s a separate statute governing mayor-council cities that requires a 40 percent vote and a 20-point edge over the second-place finisher, but that law doesn’t apply in Little Rock. If no candidate gets 40 percent, there’d be a runoff three weeks after election day.

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There is no minimum vote requirement for city board seats. The candidate with the most votes win. There’s a nine-way race for Ward 1, including incumbent Erma Hendrix.

Bryan Poe at the Election Commission followed up with the specific statutory and ordinance references:

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For a candidate to win the Little Rock Mayor’s race outright, he will need to win a minimum of 40% of the vote. Otherwise, the two candidates with the most votes will compete in the General Election Runoff to be held on December 4, 2018. This is in accordance with ACA § 14-61-111 (b)(1)(A):

(b) (2) (A) At a special or general election on the question of whether to directly elect the mayor, a majority of the qualified electors voting on the issue may also vote to require that a successful candidate for mayor receive a minimum percentage, less than fifty percent (50%), of the total votes cast for the position of mayor in order to be elected mayor without a runoff.

and Little Rock Ordinance 16435, Section 2 (Adopted at a referendum of LR voters conducted on July 27, 1993):

A successful candidate for mayor must receive forty percent ( 40 %) of the total votes cast for mayor in order to be elected mayor without a runoff…

PS: There’s another wrinkle on elections. State law requires a runoff in cities with city manager government, such as Little Rock, to hold runoffs two weeks after the election. The law was changed to provide a four-week delay in 2017, but Pulaski Election Coordinator Bryan Poe said city manager cities were inadvertently overlooked in the bill drafting. The city has taken the position the two-week period should be followed. But Poe said this puts the commision in a position to be out of kilter with other laws that didn’t exist when the two-week period was adopted in 1989. Military ballots must be given 10 days after the election for return, to name one particular problem, along with reprogramming machines for a new election. Early voting would have to begin for a two-week runoff before the candidates in a runoff were certified, Poe said. So the commission has decided to adhere to the four-week period. As yet, no one has complained.

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