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The state Board of Election Commissioners on Tuesday made commission attorney Daniel Shults its permanent director in a unanimous vote.

Shults, who since Dec. 22 has been the interim director, will replace former director Heather McKim, who resigned Dec. 21 to become the chief operations officer in the state attorney general's office.

Amanda Priest, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's communications director, said Rutledge used an existing position in the office to hire McKim rather than create a new position.

Shults has been the commission's counsel since 2016, and he had been the office's second-in-command since it removed the deputy director position after McKim was appointed director in April.

"I've been doing the work [of director] to varying degrees," Shults said on Tuesday. "One of the reasons I feel confident accepting this job is because of the confidence I have in the staff. They're an exceptional bunch to work with."

Shults will be paid the same salary as McKim ($71,171 annually), which the commission voted to make retroactive to Dec. 22 when Shults became the interim director.

The job posting was advertised for a week, receiving 52 applications. The commission requested interviews with two candidates in addition to Shults -- Richard Madison, who was the Bryant city attorney, and David Dawson, a staff attorney for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The commission spent more than an hour in executive session interviewing all three men before reconvening in public to vote on offering Shults the job.

Several members spoke highly of Shults, adding that they expected him to do a great job at the helm of the board. No members, including those appointed by the state Republican and Democratic parties, objected to Shults' appointment.

Shults said the staff will post a job listing for a commission attorney for a week beginning today.

In other business, the commission approved a package of election-related bills for lawmakers to propose during the legislative session that begins next week.

Among the 11 proposals, one would require candidates to include their surnames on the ballot. Another would prohibit special elections from being held at the same time as a general primary unless the special election is called by the governor.

Other proposals would tweak ballot styling and give the state Board of Election Commissioners more authority to audit county election proceedings in cases where it believes that violations have occurred.

Metro on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Arkansas elections board picks its director

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