Despite the objection of one of its commissioners, the Jefferson County Election Commission voted Monday night to ask the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners to appoint an election monitor for this year’s elections.

Despite the objection of one of its commissioners, the Jefferson County Election Commission voted Monday night to ask the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners to appoint an election monitor for this year’s elections.


The objection came from Stu Soffer, the Republican Party representative on the three-member commission who asked Chairman Ted Davis if the commission was "going to start complying with state law or run this the way the Democratic Central Committee wants you to."


A resolution requesting the monitor was approved with Davis and new commission secretary Cynthia Sims both voting in favor of the measure and Soffer abstaining. Sims was named secretary as the first order of business Monday, replacing Soffer, who resigned from that position. Both Davis and Sims are Democrats.


The resolution says Soffer "has been publicly accused in numerous complaints by various citizens of his overly aggressive confrontational tactics during political cycles in Jefferson County, and further, the Commission Chairman has been requested to investigate concerns expressed by citizens and individual candidates regarding accuracy or questionable vote counts over the past few years."


The resolution also says that in January, Soffer offered to donate — for a receipt of cost value — election materials that could be used in conjunction with the voting equipment in Jefferson County, and explained that he acquired the equipment from previous employment contracts held by his wife with an election equipment manufacturer.


"Commissioner Soffer is currently a sitting Election Commissioner that has in his personal possession election hardware and software that many citizens believe could theoretically, be utilized by an attacker to possibly change, alter or impact the results of an election," the resolution says. "Further, it is not known the extent or quantity of items that may be in his personal possession."


While the resolution goes on to say that the commission is making no specific accusations against Soffer or any other person, it continues with: "It stands to reason that regardless to whether the materials were ever used inappropriately or not … The mere fact of these known items are in his personal possession raises ethically, the appearance of impropriety, especially since an adequate supply of these materials are in the present inventory of the Election Commission."


Soffer described the resolution as "ridiculous and very offensive," then told Davis "it would be better if you understood the election process."


Soffer passed out a copy of a state law dealing with requesting election monitors, which provides that the request must "clearly state the specific alleged election irregularities or illegalities, when and where the alleged activity occurred, and provide any supporting facts surrounding the allegations."


In an email to The Commercial, Soffer said he previously had a contract with a company that makes voting machines.


"I trained over 3,000 poll workers in 10 states," Soffer said. "That experience enabled me to be knowledgeable about Arkansas voting equipment which was part of our CBEB (Chairman of the Board of Election Commissioners) plan with me taking the contract. The items in question were left over from then."


He said the previous commission chairman, Trey Ashcraft, had encouraged him to take the job.


In the email, Soffer also mentioned that Davis "waited until the table filled by the end of the meeting with six of his staunch Democratic Committee supporters showed up."


Among those attending the meeting were Pine Bluff Ward 1 Alderwoman Thelma Walker and Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Delton Wright.


Soffer also was critical of an attempt by Sam Whitfield to present a complaint that he was making against Soffer to Davis. Soffer said that if Whitfield had a complaint about an alleged violation of election law, "there are avenues to do that."


Sam Whitfield is the brother of Assistant Pine Bluff Chief of Police Ivan Whitfield, who ran unsuccessfully for county judge is 2012 and is seeking the seat again this year. Sam Whitfield asked Soffer to resign and requested that the commission remove Soffer by majority vote if he does not resign. He also asked that Davis forward the complaint to the prosecuting attorney and the U.S. Department of Justice.


Davis told Sam Whitfield he was "not sure about the legal process" since Soffer was appointed by the Jefferson County Republican Committee and that unless there was "evidence of wrongdoing or malfeasance" it would be up to the Republican Committee to remove Soffer.


A Commercial reporter asked Sam Whitfield for a copy of the complaint, which Davis had handed back to him to make changes he requested, but Whitfield refused, telling the reporter he was "going to give it to Davis and Davis could make a copy available."


That exchange occurred outside the election commission office after the meeting had adjourned, and Davis had already driven away.


Before ending the meeting, Davis told Sam Whitfield he would forward the complaint to the prosecutor, who is the legal representative of the commission.