Michael John Gray, Arkansas Democratic Party chair, has written Governor Hutchinson asking him to urge Stu Soffer to resign from the Jefferson County Election Commission, citing a history of intemperate remarks including one recently on the Arkansas Blog about Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth.

Gray’s letter:

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The ongoing poor behavior and conduct of Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stu Soffer demands your attention, and corrective action. I ask that you request Mr. Soffer’s immediate resignation.

This month, Mr. Soffer added to the litany of remarks and actions he’s made over the course of several years, both in official and unofficial capacities, that serve to harass, intimidate, and take away from the appearance of fair elections. Most, if not all, of these instances have involved African-Americans, including using derogatory
language such as “thugs” to describe voters, peers, and colleagues. On Sep. 5, Mr. Soffer took to the comment section of the Arkansas Times, under the account “Razorblade” and referred to Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Terri Hollingsworth, the first African-American female to hold the position, as “a cute bitch” in regards to her handling of an election related matter.

While you have indicated in the past that Mr. Soffer’s behavior is a local matter, his conduct is not in line with what is expected of Election Commissioners across this state. Furthermore, he has abused his position to assail the integrity of elections in counties outside of his purview.

The Republican Party of Arkansas chair has continually voiced support for Mr. Soffer therefore we look to you for leadership within your Party to say that this behavior is unacceptable, that Jefferson County deserves better, that Arkansas deserves better, and that the Republican Party that you lead is better than this. The integrity of
our elections demands it.

The Sep. 5 comment is merely the latest example in a string of public statements and actions that threaten the public’s confidence in the integrity of our elections. Please see the attached list documenting instances where Mr. Soffer has violated the public trust in his ability to conduct free and fair elections for all Arkansans.

 

UPDATE: Soffer responds:

I expressed my First Amendment Right ant took umbrage when Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth failed to perform her sworn duty then bragged about it.  I had no idea as to her ethnicity and it was not a factor.  Besides, what does her being the first African-American Pulaski County Clerk have any bearing on her being called out for unjustified impoliteness?  There are other African-American female county clerks of both political parties who keep it professional.  Guess she gets a pass in Pulaski County in responding to a Republican.

What occurred was in responding to an absentee ballot concern from (Republican Party Chairman) Doyle Webb, Hollingsworth professed to not recognize a simple typographical error in citing two items from the Arkansas Code.

In her response, Hollingsworth told Webb, “Further, you cite two sections of Arkansas code that do not exist, i.e., § 7-4-404(a) and 74-404-(a) (1) (B) (sic).  Yet, in the previous sentence she cited §7-5-402” so the nexus based on subject matter and numerical sequence should have been obvious to even a first-year law student.  Someone made a typo of one digit in a letter but the reference was clear.  Whomever writes her material should have recognized the writer’s intent.

Mr. John Michael Gray is a Charlatan with a history of outright lying about my activities.  He is a liar and not a man of honor.  The Jefferson County Republican Committee and the Good Lord willing, I will continue to do the right thing.

Soffer has compiled quite a record, assembled by Democrats — Stu Soffer Incidents.

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Soffer commented over the weekend on our report on Republican inquiries about Hollingsworth’s handling of applications for absentee ballots. Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb questioned whether signatures on applications were being checked as the law requires against signatures on file. Hollingsworth said then, and again to me Monday, that all the almost 11,000 applications approved for absentee ballots so far had been checked against voter registrations. A handful of applications didn’t have signature cards on file and were sent new registration applications, she said.

Hollingsworth, a Democrat, said she viewed the Republican inquiries as part of the party’s national vote suppression strategy. Pulaski votes Democratic as a rule and there are some key races on the ballot in Pulaski this year. In responding to Webb, Hollingsworth noted that he’d cited a statute that didn’t exist.

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“Razorblade,” who’s identified himself over the years as Soffer, commented:

The county clerk knows damn well Chairman Webb’s letter contains a typo and the reference is Ark. Code. Ann. 7-5-401 but she had to be a cute bitch and profess ignorance. Comply with the law lady, nothing more, nothing less.

His remark prompted a string of critical responses, including one asking how he’d have responded if the clerk had been a white male.

Wrote Razorblade:

I would have referred to him as an asshole. Those in public service have an obligation which she neglected to discharge in lieu of partisan politics. No reason for it. Gender, color, etc has no bearing. It is just someone being paid with tax dollars going out of their way to be a shithead.

The Democratic Party also issued a news release today on the GOP questioning of Hollingsworth.

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Recent actions by Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb show that the party is engaging in an attempt to suppress voting via absentee ballots. 
 “Arkansans deserve some reassurance right now that their votes are going to be counted. And in this time, with all that every Arkansas family is going through, voters need to know that their absentee ballots are going to be counted and not tossed away due to political interference,” said DPA Chairman Michael John Gray. “The state decided to allow absentee voting to help keep voters and poll workers safe, and because it’s proven to be a secure way for someone to cast their ballot. It’s notable too, that Chairman Webb has chosen to target a Democratic stronghold to pursue his purging of absentee ballot applications. I urge Chairman Webb to refrain from interfering with the election process.”  
The Governor and the Secretary of State have previously confirmed, in a joint press conference with DPA Chairman Michael John Gray, that all Arkansans have a right to request an absentee ballot for the November election — due to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, including an expected shortage of poll workers. On Sep. 2, RPA Chairman Webb, along with other Republican operatives, began a series of politically-motivated inquiries into the Pulaski County Circuit Clerk questioning the integrity of the absentee ballot application process, claiming without merit or evidence that signatures aren’t being verified and that records aren’t being posted to the electronic voter registration system within two days, as the law requires. Chairman Webb has stated the RPA is looking into other counties as well, though he has been unable to provide any evidence. 
UPDATE:
The governor was asked about this at his news conference. He said he hadn’t seen details but again said county election commissioners are selecte4d at the county left and “by and large I defer to their judgment.” He said he’d look at it more carefully after he sees details.