Election overseers don’t prefer learning some news from media

The Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners wants to know about ballot issues before The Commercial.

The panel, meeting Thursday in Pine Bluff, agreed to take steps to communicate its need to be notified of special school board and other elections “as early in the process as possible.”

Election Coordinator Will Fox said election organizers may not be fully aware of the commission’s depth of work in preparing for such votes.

Fox was primarily referring to a special election on a proposed millage increase in the Watson Chapel School District, and a special City of Pine Bluff vote on a proposed tax hike to support a public safety employees’ pension fund. Both proposals were announced just this month. The Watson Chapel issue will be decided on April 10, only six weeks before the May 22 primary election and less than a month before early primary voting starts. The Pine Bluff matter will be on the primary ballot.

“We need more advance notice,” said Commissioner Stu Soffer, adding that commissioners learned of one of the special elections from a Commercial report. Fox said the commission will be communicating “adjustments on procedures” involving proposed called election dates.

The board also decided it has no real role beyond providing appropriate support in ensuring safety in and outside the county courthouse during early and election day voting. Soffer said the county clerk is “in charge” of elections, and that authority is inclusive of providing for such security. Commissioner Trey Ashcraft, a former county clerk, agreed.

Ashcraft said that about 25 percent of voters within the county will mark their ballots during early voting.

The panel also decided, after some minor concerns were voiced, to take steps to ensure that Redfield maintains an adequate number of poll workers for the May 22 election.

Commissioners unanimously accepted “logics and accuracy” registry testing for the Watson Chapel School District vote, and collectively approved the 2012 primary ballots.