House sends governor 5 election-related bills

'I Voted' stickers are shown in this file photo.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)
'I Voted' stickers are shown in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

The Arkansas House on Tuesday sent several bills dealing with the authority of election officials to the governor.

Senate Bill 498 by Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Ferndale, requires that complaints made to county election boards about alleged election law violations be sent to the state Board of Election Commissioners.

In response to a question from House Minority Leader Tippi McCullough, D-Little Rock, the House sponsor, Rep. Carlton Wing, R-North Little Rock, said the bill would not take away the oversight of local prosecutors, because the state board would refer complaints to the appropriate authority.

Wing said SB498 aligns the state with the line of authority that already exists in statute.

It was sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on a 79-9 vote.

Senate Bill 557, also sponsored by Johnson, would give county boards the power to supervise all election officials, and it states that county employees detailed as election officials must comply with the county board's directives in election matters.

The House sponsor, Rep. Keith Brooks, R-Ferndale, said the bill clarifies lines of responsibility for election officials. SB557 was sent to the governor's desk on a 76-17 vote.

The House also sent Senate Bill 549 by Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, to Hutchinson unanimously. That bill requires the county boards of elections to prepare a report on absentee and provisional ballots. It passed 92-0 in the chamber.

Additionally, Senate Bill 643 and Senate Bill 644, both by Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, also gained final legislative approval in the House on Tuesday. SB643 requires that absentee ballots be turned in by the end of the day on the Friday before an election and passed 65-25. SB644 sets up procedures for the Legislature to review issues with elections and prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor related to violating election law from becoming an election official in future elections. It passed in a 73-17 vote.

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