Issue 1 of 2016: Terms of Office, Elections for County Officials
Issue 1 of 2016 is one of 3 ballot questions submitted to the voters by the Arkansas Legislature (Issue 2 and Issue 3 are the others). This measure deals with county officials’ terms of office, qualifications for election and elections, and doesn’t seem to be attracting much attention about 60 days from the November 8 General Election.
You’ll hear that this proposed constitutional amendment would double the terms for all county elected officials (other than JPs and constables) from the current 2 years to 4 years (includes county clerk, circuit clerk, county judge, sheriff, tax assessor, coroner, treasurer, surveyor, and tax collector). If passed, the new four-year terms begin with the 2018 general election.
This measure also adds a new section to the Arkansas Constitution dealing with elections “with one candidate,” and would remove a candidate from the ballot by considering that individual automatically elected when only 1 qualified candidate files for an office (and allows for no election to be held if this position is the only item for the ballot).
Issue 1 also prohibits county elected officials (county judge, JP, sheriff, county clerk, circuit clerk, assessor coroner, treasurer, surveyor, tax collector) from being appointed or elected to a civil office, which would prevent county officials from running for a House or Senate seat mid-term. Also, to help clarify who is eligible to hold office, Issue 1 defines “infamous crime” as a felony offense, abuse of office, tampering, or misdemeanor involving act of deceit, fraud or false statement (including misdemeanor offenses related to the election process).
Republican Senator Jack Ladyman sponsored HJR1027, which was passed by the 90th General Assembly in April, 2016. The Arkansas House voted 87 “yes,” with 2 “no” (Bell, K Hendren), 1 “present” (J Mayberry), and 10 “non-voting” (E Armstrong, Baine, Davis, Dotson, D Douglas, Gillam (Speaker), Lundstrum, Ratliff, Scott, and Vaught). In the Arkansas Senate, 33 voted “yes,” with one non-voting (Teague).
Some info sourced from the UofA Division of Agriculture’s 2016 Ballot Issues Guide, the state repository of Arkansas Supreme Court rulings, Ballotpedia, and the Arkansas Legislature website.