BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Polk County Election Commission met recently to verify school board elections and to discuss the combining of townships to lessen the cost of elections in Polk County.
The Election Commission verified that all three County school districts, Mena, Ouachita River, and Cossatot River, had no opposed members of their boards this year meaning all will remain the same until the next cycle.
After discussion amongst the Commission and County Judge Brandon Ellison, it was decided that the Commission would petition the Polk County Quorum Court to change township lines. There are currently sixteen townships within Polk County, with only ten having a Constable to oversee the area. “It would make the election process a lot easier, would cut down on ballot styles, and would make it cheaper to have an election,” said Ellison.
With each township, ballot styles change because there are different Constables to be elected for area. This increases the cost of ballots to the county each election cycle. Ellison pointed out that none of the township lines coincide with any other boundries making it more difficult and causing some townships to have more than one ballot. For instance, if one township is split on a school district line, that township would need two different ballots for voters, one set for one school board and a second set for the other school board, while both would carry the constable for that township, plus other elected officials. On average, Polk County has close to 100 ballot styles for each election.
The role of a Constable is for peace keeping and all functions required to insure peace. Constables are a position set forth by the constitution, however, not only is it an unpaid position, they also pay for their own training, transportation, uniforms, and equipment. “Most constables make themselves available for the Sheriff if he needs them but most of them don’t actively write tickets or make arrests,” said County Clerk Terri Harrison. However, constables are considered the ‘grass roots’ of the law enforcement system in Arkansas.
If approved by the Quorum Court, the Election Commission will seek to combine the Rich Mountain township with Acorn, Freedom with Cedar, Ouachita with Mountain, Ozark with White, and Mill Creek and Big Fork with Fulton.
Also in the meeting, Commissioners said the District 2 Polling Station will be moved to the 9th Street Ministries Building. The polling station has been in Union Mission Church facilities in the past, however, due to a new rule by the church, the polling place had to be moved. The Commission stated that all voters affected by the move will receive a letter in the mail at least 30 days prior to the next election.
And, as a reminder, Harrison said that the filing deadline for candidates wishing to participate in next year’s general election will be November 2nd through November 9th.