Election commission sets dates for candidate orientation meetings


At a meeting Tuesday afternoon the Jefferson County Election Commission finalized its plan to host a series of gatherings at its Main Street headquarters in mid-October with the local candidates who are running in the Nov. 6 general election to walk them through the electoral process.

Commission Chairman Trey Ashcraft said that the meetings will assist the candidates in managing their expectations.

“There are candidates who have never run for anything that may not know how the process works and even for those that have run before election laws change and this will be beneficial to them,” Ashcraft said. “We will walk the candidates through the process. We need to make sure that everyone’s expectations are right. As an example candidates need to know that when the polls close at 7:30 on election night the complete results won’t be ready yet by 8:00.”

Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson participated in the meeting and said that she believed having the candidate meetings is a good idea.

“There are things that the candidates don’t know,” Johnson said. “So this is a good idea. I think this will make a difference.”

Ashcraft said that instead of holding one big meeting for everyone it would be best to hold several one hour sessions to provide people with some flexibility.

The commission decided upon meeting times of 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 10 and again on Oct. 12 with each candidate allowed to bring two guests at the election office, 123 Main St.

In other business the commission approved the list of poll workers as well as the list of polls and precincts that had been prepared by Election Coordinator Will Fox for the Nov. 6 general election.

Differences

Ashcraft and commission Secretary Stu Soffer differed over the interpretation of a section of election law pertaining to when the results from early voting and the absentee ballots can be printed.

“As far as I know the totals can’t be printed until 7:30 on election night, even for early voting,” Soffer said.

“If we can justify getting the information to the voters quickly then we should,” Ashcraft said.

Both men agreed that voting results cannot be published until after the closing of the polls on election night, but they differed over when it is lawful to actually print out the results.

Soffer said that he advocated caution because he did not want to see Jefferson County under scrutiny for violating election laws.

“Other counties have gotten into trouble for this type of thing and I don’t want to see that happen here,” Soffer said.

“I want the results out as quickly and accurately as possible within the law,” Ashcraft said.

Ashcraft moved on to a different topic after saying that the discussion over when to print election results was not part of the meeting agenda.

School board run-off

The commission released the details for the run-off election set for the Pine Bluff School District Zone 4 and Zone 6 seats.

The run-off in Zone 4 is between Henry Dabner Jr. and Lee Meadows; the Zone 6 run-off is between Donna Barnes and Leon Jones Sr.

Early voting will take place in the office of the Jefferson County Clerk at the courthouse from Oct. 2 through Oct. 8, excluding weekends between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Absentee ballots may be obtained from the county clerk during normal business hours.

The run-off election will take place Oct. 9 from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Polling sites for election day are as follows:

New St. Hurricane Baptist at 3319 S. Ohio will host precincts 31, 32, 120, 121, 122, 123, 126, 208, 209, 210, 213, 217, 220, and 223.

Central Presbyterian Church at 6300 Trinity Drive will host precincts 222, 224, 225, and 226.

Highway 15 Volunteer Fire Dept. at 10672 U.S. 63 South will host precincts 29, 30 and 50.

Green Meadows Baptist at 4201 U.S. 65 South will host precincts 26, 27, 28, 33, 36, 37, 40 and 42.