Counting the uncountable votes on ballot issues UPDATE: Lots of opposition to Issue One | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Counting the uncountable votes on ballot issues UPDATE: Lots of opposition to Issue One

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 2:28 PM

Thanks to some misleading politicking by Republican Sen. Trent Garner I learned that information is available about ballot issues — lawsuit limits and term limits — removed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court. UPDATE: And surprise, the news isn't nearly what Trent Garner thinks it is.

The Union County Election Commission released votes on Issues One (lawsuit limits) and Three (term limits) although both were removed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court. and Garner duly noted one of them gleefully.

In each case, the rulings came after electronic ballots had been prepared. The secretary of state was ordered not to "count, canvass or certify" election results. The secretary of state sent notice of those opinions to county clerks. The office included this handy sign to post at polls.

Voters nonetheless could "vote" on the issues. I did in Pulaski County and so did most voters statewide.

Did all vote on that issue? Or did the court rulings have an impact? I think Garner's editorial comment is misleading in part because some 2,600 fewer voters cast ballots on Issue One in Union County than voted in the race for governor. The gap between the vote on Issue 2 (voter ID), which remained on the ballot, and gubernatorial voting, was only about 1,000.

I find Garner's conclusion misleading also because he chose not to mention Issue 3, term limits, also removed from the ballot. The margin in Union County was 8,850 to 2,196 in FAVOR of term limits, a measure that Garner opposed. You see he's a full-time politician, living off the fat of taxpayer salary, expenses, good cheap health insurance and the occasional free lobbyist feed. Under current law, with lucky draws on reapportionment, he could hold onto that senatorial standard of living for up to 22 years. The term limits measure would have cut him off at eight. In Union County, the dastardly Supreme Court "discredited" 8,850 voters who were happy to send Garner back to private life much sooner.

Other efforts are underway to dig into voting. The Pulaski County Election Commission omitted the disqualified measures from its public report, but it can access the numbers and plans to do so today on account of a request from a member of the Election Commission.

UPDATE: Garner was even more misleading than I thought. Jesse Gibson, a Little Rock lawyer who led opposition to Issue One, is compiling Issue One votes, too. They tell a different story than what Garner would have you believe.

Many people thought it would have been better to have the vote and defeat this bad law outright. Perhaps they were right. Gibson has compiled these additional numbers from major population centers, all AGAINST Issue One, including a nearly 14,000-vote pasting in Pulaski County:

Clark 2770 FOR 3574 AGAINST
Craighead 11575 FOR 12605 AGAINST
Crawford 6863 FOR 8418 AGAINST
Grant 2389 FOR 2952 AGAINST
Greene 2517 FOR 3370 AGAINST
Hot Spring 2701 FOR 3585 AGAINST
Johnson 3112 FOR 3909 AGAINST
Pope 8193 FOR 8545 AGAINST (raw numbers not in hand)
Pulaski 48453 FOR 62341 AGAINST
Sevier 1360 FOR 1570 AGAINST
Washington 25138 FOR 26788 AGAINST

PS: Washington County also went 3-1 in favor of stricter term limits. I suspect that pattern applied everywhere. You can see why people like Garner and the Chamber of Commerce, who own so many legislators, didn't want that on the ballot.

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