Eureka taxes and pot issues to be on November ballot

Thursday, September 21, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- A countywide initiative to abolish the jail tax failed to make it to the November election ballot but three Eureka Springs issues did.

They included: an initiative to abolish the two-cent City Advertising nd Promotion Commission tax; continuation of a Parks and Recreation tax; and a marijuana initiative aimed at making adult misdemeanor possession the lowest law enforcement priority.

The jail tax initiative to abolish the half-cent tax failed to make it tothe November ballot because the petition was 409 signatures shy of the mark.

Of the 1,264 required, only 855 were turned in to the county clerk's office by the Sept. 8 deadline.

It was initially thought that if an initiative falls short of the required sinatures, petitioners have another 10 days to collect more.

However, according to case law, Dixon vs Secretary of Arkansas, a petition must contain the required number of signatures at the time of filing.

Should some of those signatures be stricken, then etitioners would have added days to collect more.

The Supreme Court ruled, "there must first be filed with the official..., a petition containing, prima facie, the requisite number of signatures. Correction and amendment go to form and error, rather than o complete failure."

All these issues were addressed by the Carroll County Election Commission Thursday.

Also addressed was the drawing of ballot positions for the Eureka Springs Ward 3 race, which was initially contested by incumbent Terry McClung, who qestioned his opponent's residency.

Eureka Springs City Clerk Mary Jean Sell said McClung's opponent, Eric Sheunemann, "is in Ward 3 according to the ordinance accepting his property."

With that, Election Commission Chairman Levi Phillips stated, "Eureka prings says he's in Ward 3," and proceeded with the drawing for ballot positions.

Commissioners also officially removed two names from general election races after receiving notices of withdrawal from the candidates. They included Omega constable contende Michael Brown, who moved out of the township, and Green Forest alderman candidate Gaylord Finch, who filed for the wrong seat.

Commissioners proceeded with the ordering of Braille guides for use in electronic voting, one per precinct at a cost of $10 eac, as recommended by Election Systems and Software (ES&S), provider of the county's electronic voting machines.

Phillips addressed the dilemma the commission faces with 17 handicapped accessible voting machines confined behind closed doors because of a pening lawsuit that arose after the primary election.

According to the Help America Vote Act, there must be one handicapped accessible voting machine at each of the county's 17 polling sites.

The commission recently received additional machines, but only fie are handicapped accessible.

Phillips suggested that maybe the confined machines could be released by the judge in the case, because it is the Personal Electronic Ballots (PEBs), flash cards, and paper rolls that hold the data being contested.

The commision has extra PEBs, flash cards and paper rolls to use in those machines should they be released.

If the machines are available for the November general election, Phillips suggested the commission establish the same set up that was used in the primary elction, with one handicapped accessible voting machine at each polling place -- and paper ballots.

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