With the special election where Pine Bluff voters will decide the fate of a five-eighths cent sales tax increase to fund the Go Forward Pine Bluff initiative just over two months away, Jefferson County Election Commission Secretary Stu Soffer said Monday that “we’re on track and on schedule.”
Early voting will begin between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 6 at the Jefferson County Courthouse, with the election itself set for 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 13. There will be no voting on Saturday.
“We’re not foreseeing any problems,” Soffer said.
If the tax is approved, it will sunset, or come off the books, in seven years.
Soffer said that former election coordinators Will Fox and Taylor Eubank have volunteered their services, and the two former technicians, who worked on voting machines before resigning earlier this year, are currently training two new technicians in the operation of the machines.
“Our whole team has stepped up, and we’re really pleased about that,” Soffer said.
He said that media for the voting machines has been received by the company that will create the programming, and they are currently waiting on word from the commission before they begin creating the programming.
Soffer said all 25 polling sites within the Pine Bluff city limits will be open for the election, and in early May, personnel will be contacting poll judges and poll workers about their availability to work the election.
The commission has been without a coordinator since March, when former coordinator Stacy Brown resigned and accepted a position working in the office of Jefferson County Judge Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV. A resolution approved by the commission which would allow them, and not Wilkins, to select and supervise the coordinator has been rejected by the judge.
Arkansas State law provides that the county judge is responsible for hiring and firing election coordinators, and the three previous coordinators, including Eubank, Fox and Brown, were all hired by county judges.
Soffer said the commission has asked for an Attorney General’s opinion on the issue but that opinion has not been received.
The commission has asked for a $25,000 supplemental appropriation from Jefferson County to pay for the election with Soffer saying that 100 percent of that money will be reimbursed.