Thursday, August 25, 2016

Smoking e-mails: Democrats say they show Mark Martin pushed use of bad voter records

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 5:44 PM

Mark Martin: Democratic Party calls for accountability.
  • Mark Martin: Democratic Party calls for accountability.

The Arkansas Democratic Party today released a belated production of e-mails from the secretary of state's office about the flawed records he sent to county clerks that could have resulted in improper purges of voters.

The party complains that Secretary of State Mark Martin still hasn't fully complied with its Freedom of Information Act request. Moreover, the records that were released don't cast a favorable light on Martin.

The e-mails show little effort by Martin in urging restraint to county clerks who got a dump of Arkansas Crime Information Center data he distributed despite knowing it was flawed. He encouraged the clerks to use the information. Some undoubtedly did and may have purged voters who shouldn't have been purged. They'll have to again prove their right to vote.

Said Party Chair Vince Insalaco:

“Voting is a sacred right granted to Arkansans by the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions. Defending politicians who trample on that right and hide public records is not a good use of taxpayer dollars. The cover-up continues with Mark Martin and his Republican cronies at the Capitol. I call on Governor Hutchinson and Attorney General Rutledge to denounce Mark Martin’s cover-up and hold him accountable. We now know which counties are still left without a fix to Mark Martin’s voter purge. We will not give up the fight for Arkansans' right to vote. This episode should again remind all Arkansans that elections have consequences.” 
I have asked Martin's office for a response, but they've generally been reluctant to comment on this matter. I"ve also asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge about a fellow Republican's encouragement of use of faulty data and whether they think any steps should be taken to ensure no one is wrongly denied a ballot.

The Democratic Party provided a link to all Martin's responses here. It also gave this summary (which raises anew the question of whether Martin might be part of a broader effort by Republican officials to suppress voting, an effort due for more reporting Friday in the Rolling Stone):

June 14: Before sending a voter file they knew was full of errors, Secretary of State Chief Deputy writes that the SOS staff: “might want to give your contact in that county a call and ease the surprise just a little.”

June 27: Secretary of State’s office emails County Clerks to tell them that they are being sent a “correct felon file.” Secretary of State office calls file “correct” well after they had known “since 2014” that there were major issues and “glitches.”

June 30: Clerks begin to write to Secretary of State for help. An email from the Polk County Clerk’s office cries out, “Help!!! Oh. My. Gosh. Please. Help” because they were “being bombarded with phone calls” about the incorrect voter list.

July 7: ACIC asks Secretary of State staff what criteria they are using to “narrow the list of subjects being excluded from voting rights” and asks for a “copy of your list.”

July 7: Secretary of State office writes to ACIC that they “don’t believe it is necessary at this point for you all to go through this entire list and investigate each one.” This is a clear refusal to fix the issue.

July 7: Pulaski County Clerk’s office asks to “re-set Pulaski County” and “recommend that you strongly consider doing so for the entire state

July 8: Despite errors, Secretary of State office tells Clerks: “Yes Ma’am” that they should “go ahead now on this” even though there were major errors.

July 18: Secretary of State office emails say that “Pulaski is getting pretty anxious.”

July 19: Pulaski County again expresses strong “concerns with the quality of the data”.

August 12: Chief Deputy thanks Secretary of State Office Elections staff for all they have “accomplished this summer” and to prepare for outside “threats” about the “felon file issue.”
Mark Martin can't run again for this office. There's that. But he has powerful influence over the state Election Commission through his office.

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