The Pulaski County Election Commission adopted two policies Wednesday night — not announced before the meeting — to put the Republican majority firmly in control of the county election apparatus, including hiring the election coordinator and restricting staff ability to talk to media.

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Board Chair Kristi Stahr, who’d once threatened to quit the commission after the Republican-controlled state Election Commission reprimanded her and former Republican commissioner Evelyn Gomez for shared responsibility with others for law violations in operation of the 2020 election, offered both proposals. The other Republican, David Scott, voted for them. Democratic Commissioner Susan Inman voted no. (Stahr has gone to court to appeal her reprimand.)

The county attorney, who represents the commission, wasn’t present to answer questions Inman raised about the policies and a subsequent proposal by Scott to gave Stahr day-to-day oversight of the election coordinator’s office, which is permanently staffed. There’s some confusion about whether that proposal passed or not.

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Stahr was moving to implement a new state law that was among a group passed by Republicans in the legislature this year to make voting more difficult and to give Republicans tools to control and punish election officials. Arkansas constitutional questions remain about usurping county judge control of elements of the election machinery. Pulaski County pays for the election staff and county clerks also have a role in the election process. Both are Democrats in Pulaski County and the laws were changed by Republicans with an eye to weakening them.

You can watch the three-hour show on YouTube. Stahr does much of the talking,  but her commission bio informs us she was chosen in 2018 as one of AY Magazine’s Intriguing Women of Arkansas, so maybe it’s worth your time. Stahr also plans to talk more about the commission budget,  presumably with ideas about what the county will be required by her wishes to pay.

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Here are the policies:

Policy Number 21-02 (PN 21-02)

Qualifications for the Appointment of the Pulaski County Elections Coordinator  

 

Division: Board of Election Commissioners

Location: Pulaski County, Arkansas

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Policy Type: Election Officials

Effective Date: August 25, 2021

 

 

  1. DEFINITIONS

 

For the purpose of this policy, the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners will be referred to as the Board. The Director of Elections will be referred to as the county election coordinator.

 

  1. BACKGROUND

 

Following the passage of Act 950 of 2021, the Board has responsibility for the supervision and appointment of election officials, including county employees designated as election officials.

 

  1. REQUIREMENTS

 

The Board may designate an election official to serve as the county election coordinator. If appointed, the county election coordinator shall be responsible for the day-to-day operations and conduct of elections on behalf of the Board and in accordance with law.

Knowledge:

  • Knowledge of election administration and relevant laws governing elections
  • Knowledge of relevant lawful human resource policies and practices
  • Knowledge of budgets, election expense allocation, procurement, and state funding
  • Knowledge of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
  • Knowledge of state and federal Retention Schedules regarding elections
  • Knowledge of publication requirements regarding elections

Skills:

  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Adobe, and social media platforms
  • Experience with election related databases and election equipment
  • Effective written, interpersonal communication, and conflict resolution skills
  • Strong organizational and writing skills
  • Strong relationship and team building skills

Abilities:

  • Ability to follow and implement directives
  • Ability to manage the day-to-day operations of the Board
  • Ability to perform duties assigned by the Board
  • Ability to convey and exchange relevant information
  • Ability to perform in a professional manner under stressful situations

 

All county election staff who are appointed as election officials serves at the pleasure of the Board. 

 

Policy Number 21-01 (PN 21-01)

COMMUNICATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY

 

Division: Board of Election Commissioners

Location: Pulaski County, Arkansas

Policy Type: Communications

Effective Date: August 25, 2021

 

 

  1. DEFINITIONS

 

For the purpose of this policy, the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners will be referred to as the Board. The director of elections will be referred to as the county election coordinator.

 

  1. EMAIL

 

All electronic communications regarding elections, related duties, early voting, election officials, voting machines, Freedom of Information requests, or any other election related activities shall be copied and forwarded to the Board by the county election coordinator or board designee.

 

III. INTERVIEWS

 

The county election coordinator or Board’s designee shall inform the Board regarding requests for interviews or statements to the media. The county election coordinator or county election staff shall not speak on behalf of the Board unless designated by the Board or the Board’s designee.

 

  1. MEETINGS

 

The county election coordinator and county election staff shall maintain professional decorum in all proceedings and interactions with the Public and other designated election officials. All public meetings will follow the informal Robert’s Rules of Order for Small Boards and Commissions. All public comment will occur in accordance with the meeting agenda unless an exception is provided by the Board.

 

All public meetings shall be recorded as required by law, and recordings shall be made available on the Board’s website. If available, all public meetings shall be livestreamed with a link printed on the meeting agenda. The meeting agenda, minutes, recording, memos, link(s) to livestream, and relevant meeting documents designated by the Board or the Board’s designee shall be made available on the Board’s website in a timely manner and in accordance with state law.

 

A member of the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners (PCBEC) who may be unable to attend an in-person meeting may vote via video-conferencing with approval of the Board and so long as notice has been provided.

 

  1. ELECTIONS

 

All mandatory notices will be published in a countywide newspaper as specified by law. All mandatory notices will be disseminated via the election mailing list. All mandatory notices will be posted to Twitter and Facebook in a readable format. All mandatory notices will be attached to the meetings and placed on the website following approval for publication.

 

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Social media, Twitter, and Facebook shall be utilized in addition to publishing requirements detailed in state law to ensure the Public is informed. Approved meeting agendas, notices of election, early voting information, election deadlines, and election results (including amended) shall be posted on the Board’s social media accounts if available.

 

The Board or their designee may require additional information to be posted or shared on the Board’s social media accounts. YouTube links to the Board’s livestream shall be posted in the text of all social media platforms to allow for ease of access by the Public.

 

The Board’s social media page or handle shall not like or follow candidate pages, campaigns, or groups with issues on the Pulaski County ballot. Sharing obscene posts or tweets is prohibited. All social media activity shall be conducted in accordance with the Board’s direction or their Board’s designee. This policy does not prohibit a designated election official from answering questions presented by a member of the public so long as state and federal laws regarding partisan activity or campaigning with regard to ballot issues are observed.

 

VII.  OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

 

All templates, agendas, memos, letterheads, and the like shall reflect the correct name of the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners (PCBEC). The Board or their designee may review and update any document bearing the Board’s name or any document under their supervision unless otherwise prohibited by law.

 

V1. PASSWORDS

 

A Board member designated by the Board shall be provided log-in information and access to all Board accounts, including but not limited to, social media platforms, live streaming services, election night reporting (ENR), and others not named here and determined on an “as needed” basis by the Board.