Election Commission says no to multiple sites for ES school vote

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BERRYVILLE -- During a short meeting Friday, the Carroll County Election Commission denied a formal request from the Eureka Springs School District for multiple polling sites for its special millage election on Feb. 9.

District Superintendent Wayne Carr requested two polling sites; one in Eureka Springs and at the other at the Holiday Island Club House, to "allow voters to conveniently vote in Eureka Springs or at Holiday Island," he said.

Carr appeared before the commission earlier in the month, at the commission's request, to discuss the proposal, which had surfaced at a building committee meeting.

That committee is a volunteer group comprised of district patrons responsible for promoting passage of the increase to pay for a new high school.

Carr said they thought additional sites would make it easier for people to vote.

In his formal request to the commission dated Nov. 13, Carr wrote, "My intent is to give every school district patron the best opportunity possible to vote on this matter. This is a pivotal decision for the Eureka Springs School District and for the community, and it is important that we maximize voter participation concerning this issue. I sincerely believe that the additional polling site would afford many more of our citizens a greater opportunity to express their opinions on the proposal to build a new high school complex."

A 1.98 mill increase question will be on the ballot to pay for a new high school.

According to election commission records, the last time Eureka patrons were asked to approve a millage increase of 2.45 mil in September, 2003, only four percent of the district's 5,610 voters turned out to cast ballots. At that time, the increase passed with 120 voting yes and 84 no.

Election Commissioners David Hoover, Joe Goforth and Levi Phillips were swift with their denial. Phillips said "the request has been discussed enough, and he knows our reasons."

Those reasons, they agreed, were the potential for confusion among voters as to where they should vote, the potential for double voting, and the potential for setting a precedent.

Phillips said at a previous meeting that other school districts had made the same request in the past, and they were denied. He pointed out that many other school district patrons across the county had to drive much further to cast votes than those in the Eureka district.

At that time, he suggested to Carr that he push early voting at both the Eureka Springs and Berryville courthouses, saying "early voting is the way to work an election. Early voting is the key."

In response to the commission's denial, Carr issued this statement:

"I believe this decision will hinder many of our citizens from voting in the Feb. 9 election, especially if the weather is bad on that day. It is my contention that we should make voting as convenient as possible."

In other commission business, Election Coordinator Bethe Henley announced that drawing for ballot positions for the Green Forest mayoral race, which is also scheduled for Feb. 9, will take place at 9 a.m. on Dec. 3, one day after the filing deadline of noon, Wednesday, Dec. 2.

As of press time, only one person had filed, Charles B. Reece.

She also announced that public testing of election machines will begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Berryville courthouse.

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