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Local man ‘disappointed’ with county voter registration system

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TERRICA HENDRIX
Reporter
NASHVILLE – A local man is
disappointed because he will
not get to serve his county due
to the county’s voter registration
system not being kept up to date
with redistricting.
On Nov. 9, Albert Motta filed
for the office of Constable Township
1 in the Democratic Preferential
Primary Election – which will
be held on Tues., March 1, 2016.
“I am disappointed that I will
not get a chance to serve Howard
County in the elected role
for which I filed,” Motta stated
in a letter to the News. “Due to
the county’s voter registration
system not being kept up to
date with redistricting, I inadvertently
filed for a district in which
I don’t reside (despite not having
moved). At the close of filing on
November 9th, more than four
months after County Judge Kevin
Smith ordered the new district
boundaries, the County Clerk’s
office still had not updated their
system. Today, I learned from the
Secretary of State’s office that our
system still hasn’t been updated.
It worries me that the Clerk’s
office seems unable to provide
correct information to those
who would serve the people of
Howard County, and worries
me further that they may not be
providing correct information to
voters concerning where they are
to vote. It should also be noted
that this is not the first major error
in reporting from the Howard
County Clerk’s office in the past
few years. While the issue of
my having been disqualified for
the office for which I filed is of
concern to me, the fact
that it is unclear whether voters
have current and correct
information about where
they are to vote, and doubt
over whether those votes
will be tabulated correctly,
are of far greater concern,”
Motta ended.
Howard County Clerk
Brenda Washburn said that
Motta filed for that Constable
position on “Nov. 9 close to
12 p.m.,…close to the end
of filling period. If he had
brought that in earlier where
we could have had time
to check it out, but I can’t
change it. He is the only one
who would have been able
to withdraw that filling, go
back to the party [who he
filed with], bring us another
party filing certificate with
the right township on it and
it would have been fine.”
Washburn said that because
Motta filed near the filling
period deadline that she only
had time to “accept it.”
She added that she found
Motta’s filing error after the
filing period ended and she
“called the election commissioners
and asked them to
look at it and then I called the
state board of election commissioners,
then I called the
Secretary of State’s office and
they referred me to the county
attorney and he handled it
from there.” Washburn said
that Aaron Brasel, Howard
County attorney, spoke to
Motta about the filing and
that she did not know what
was specifically said.
“Regarding the tabulation
of votes, the first votes that
are released election night
are unofficial. The next day,
we come in and go over
everything again. Before the
election is certified, we have
everything that we’ve gone
back over. We have to balance
everything; ballots that
are out, ballots that are left.
We go over the tabulation
again and we have reports
that we have to send to the
Secretary of State’s office
regarding everything and
the Election Commission
also has to sign off on that.
So, there is a lot of work after
an election to make sure that
everything is correct,” Washburn
explained. She added
that the voter registration
system Motta referred to is
“up to date.”
“The only time you have
to notify someone is when
their polling site changes
and you’re required by law
to notify them. We do. We
did not change his polling
site. We did not change the
precinct that he lives in –
which is Nashville Township
1…that is his voting precinct
where he lives. But, the office
he applied for is Constable
Township #1, he does not
live in that area. He lives in
Constable Township # 2.”
Howard County Order
No. 2015-6 – filed June 24
– regarding the matter of
Constable Townships in the
county, states:
“On this 23 day of June
2015, comes before the
County Court the matter
of Constable Townships in
Howard County, Arkansas.
The Court exercising its exclusive
authority under the
law, doth hereby find and
order as follows:
1. The citizens of Howard
County, Arkansas, are best
served by local government
which is efficient and presents
the least adverse impact
on their lives and safety.
2. Amendment 55 to the
Constitution of the State of
Arkansas changed the duties
of the Justices of the Peace
in each county from judicial
to legislative nature. The
Constitution of the State of
Arkansas still provides for
the election of the office of
Constable to each Constable
Township in the county. With
the dissolution of the Justice
Courts there is no longer
a need for 22 or more Constable
Townships to carry
out mandates of the courts.
3. The present Constable
Townships are hereby dissolved
and be replaced with
three Constable Townships.
Constable Township #1
boundary shall coincide with
the Justice of the Peace districts
1, 2, and 3. Constable
Township #2 boundary shall
coincide with Justice of the
Peace districts 4, 5 ,6 and 7.
Constable Township #3 shall
coincide with Justice of the
Peace district 8 and 9. The
place for elections will be the
same as in each Justice of the
Peace district.
4. The County Clerk shall
forthwith publish this Order
and shall execute the directives
herein prior to the
next election for the office of
Constable.
The order was signed by
Judge Smith.