Arkansas

Election Commissioner Appeals to Electoral Commission in Legal Action Filed by Former Republican Chair

 

Barry Haaswho sued Pulaski County Board of Elections in federal court over his refusal to allow him to participate in the 2021 poll, went to the panel tonight as part of a settlement reached last year.

Haas sued the commission last year after the then commissioner Christy Star, a Republican and chairman of the commission at the time, objected to Haas working with the polls after being a plaintiff in lawsuits challenging the state’s voter ID law. Star claimed that Haas had stated on social media that he would not abide by the state’s voter ID laws.

Haas said he made no such claims that Star “didn’t have a shred of evidence”, and called Star’s remarks “slanderous”.

The settlement reached last month required the commission to allow Haas to make a statement and meet with the chairman of the commission. David Scott.

I’ll start by giving you an idea of ​​who I am.

I came to Arkansas in August 1967 to serve on the Titan 2 nuclear launch team at Little Rock Air Force Base. I had a security clearance and was honorably discharged after four years of active service from 1966 to 1970.

Fast forward about 30 years, to about 2001, when I noticed the “Be a Poll” pamphlet while voting. I applied, got approved, and have been in the survey for over 20 years. At one time I was Chief Justice at Parkway Place Baptist Church on the west side of Little Rock. For many years, this polling place, one of the busiest in the county and the state, had about 4,500 eligible voters, far exceeding the state’s maximum of 3,000 voters.

In November 2008, my colleagues and I helped approximately 1,800 voters vote in person for 12 hours during the presidential election. I was a polling station employee on Election Day until November 2020 when due to Covid and my age I moved to work as an absentee ballot clerk.

To the best of my knowledge, in my two decades as a poll worker, there has never been a complaint about my willingness or my ability to comply with all federal or state voting laws.

I will now ask you to put yourself in my shoes as I continue my statement and think about how you would react if serious but completely false accusations were made against you in public.

On September 7, 2021, former Electoral Commissioner Pulaski Co. Christy Star falsely accused me of posting on social media that I would not comply with state voter ID law. When then-Commissioner Susan Inman asked Star, “Do you have proof?”, Star replied, “I’ve read their statements on social media in recent months that they’re not going to comply with the voter ID law…”.

It was a trumped up charge and an act of retaliation to prevent me from working as an absentee ballot clerk for the upcoming special election. Star’s problem is that I’ve never been a user and have no account on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other popular social networks where she is likely to be a user. More importantly, I have never stated, written or posted anywhere on the Internet that I would refuse to follow any election law while working as a poll worker.

Why would Star make such false claims? Because I was the plaintiff in two lawsuits challenging the state’s voter ID law, and she cited that in support of her false accusation.

As a war veteran, I take our constitutional right to vote very seriously. I also know that the Arkansas State Constitution is very protective of our right to vote. My opposition to the state’s voter ID law while it was in the judiciary was to protect and preserve both my right to vote and that of my fellow citizens, plain and simple.

I filed a federal lawsuit against the Pulaski County Board of Elections to correct Star’s false and retaliatory accusation. Although only Star was truly guilty, the whole commission should have been involved in the lawsuit. Former Commissioner Inman disputed Star’s charge and is completely innocent in the matter.

Commissioner David Scott, the current chairman, was taken aback by Star’s accusation during this meeting. He and I met last week, as required by the Settlement Agreement. I explained to Chairman Scott that at first I thought he was innocent of what happened, as he said during the commission meeting on September 7, 2021 in response to Star’s accusation: “I have no direct knowledge of what you are talking about today. “. I told Chairman Scott that, reflecting on this a few days after the meeting, I was somewhat disappointed that, as a lawyer and with a legal background, he did not question such a serious accusation made without any evidence. As I gathered from our one-on-one conversation last week, he felt that he had no legal choice but to approve the list of required additional staff to conduct interviews with my name crossed out, as required by Star. I accept his explanation.

As part of the settlement between the Pulaski County Board of Elections and myself, I did not seek monetary damages or legal fees. I sought to clear my good name of Star’s unfortunate slander. And I hope that the Settlement Agreement, which includes special training for election commissioners in the rights of every person enshrined in the First Amendment, including poll workers, will prevent retaliation against any current or future poll worker, as Star did in regarding me.

The position of district electoral commissioner is non-partisan. Guerrillas are not eligible to serve in that capacity. You can be a political supporter or a non-partisan electoral commissioner. You cannot be both at the same time. Legally they are mutually exclusive.

Thankfully, Star is no longer on this election committee, as she clearly couldn’t leave her allegiance at home as part of this non-partisan body. Too bad she left this mess for you to clean up.

At this point, I am available to answer any questions you may have, or discuss this issue as you may wish.

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