CONWAY -- The fee for programming special-election ballots for Faulkner County school districts and municipalities will be doubled beginning next year, the Faulkner County Election Commission voted Wednesday.
Previously, the special-election ballots were programmed into the county's election equipment by election coordinator Teresa Horton for a flat fee of $500. Beginning in 2020, that fee can range from $500 to $1,000 depending on the variety of ballot styles requested, the commission voted.
"I've had five special elections this year," Horton said. "It can get very expensive for the county and we've only been charging them $500 for the ballot programming."
Horton said Faulkner County is one of only seven counties in the state that program the ballots in-house. The other counties hire outside contractors who can charge about $5,000 per election, she added.
"I do the programming, the testing and everything," Horton said.
The decision on what to charge school districts and municipalities for the service will be decided on an individual basis by county clerk Margaret Darter, Election Commission Chairman Paul Foster said.
The commission also voted unanimously to update its policy for paying poll workers and election officials to reflect the state minimum wage increase to $10 an hour, which will go into effect Jan. 1.
All regular election officials will be paid $10 per hour while the poll sheriff and check-in supervisors will get $10.50 per hour. The average election day is about 14 hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch, Foster said.
During early voting, those hours are typically from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Regular election workers cannot work more than four days per week during early voting unless approved by the county election coordinator.
The commission also used dominoes, a baseball cap and volunteers from the audience to draw for ballot positions in the nine contested races that will be on the ballot for the March 3 primary election.
For the first draw, Foster took the cap off his head and tossed in slips of folded paper for the 18 Democratic contestants who filed in November for president.
"When I got here today, I thought I had covered everything. I've got 10 dominoes here and the dominoes are numbered 1 through 10," Foster said. "The problem is that we have 18 people running in the Democrat primary for president."
Faulkner County uses voting centers -- permanent locations around the county. Residents can vote at any of the six early voting locations or any of the 22 voting centers on election day regardless of their Faulkner County addresses.
Early voting for the primary begins Feb. 17 and ends at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the election. The deadline to register to vote is Feb. 3.
Metro on 12/06/2019