Intrigue abounds in Crittenden County, where a former Democratic candidate in special election for the House District 54 seat, Kim Felker, has alleged voting “irregularities” following her loss in the primary run-off election.
United Nations Arkansas Board of Elections monitors have been dispatched to the east Arkansas locale to observe the process, and state police are investigating the fraud claims at the request of a local prosecutor.
And if you’re THAT interested, you may be wondering, does Jason Tolbert have more than I could possibly ever want to know about this race? Of course he does.
All of which makes this as good a time as any to revisit a recent paper from Arkansas Project contributor Dan Greenberg focusing on how strengthening the integrity of elections isn’t only good policy, but may help to encourage increased voter turnout.
Does vote fraud matter? Why, yes, writes Greenberg:
Some argue that small-scale voter fraud, such as a person voting twice, voting under someone else’s name, or similar cons, won’t change the outcome of elections. But not all elections are landslides, especially at the state and local levels. Two legislators on the House State Agencies committee that voted HB 1797 onto the floor [in the 2011 legislative session] won their 2006 primaries by less than ten votes each. In a close election like that, a few fraudulent votes can make a big difference.
Felker, who launched the vote fraud “J’Accuse!” against Democrat Hudson Hallum, lost the primary run-off election by eight votes.
Greenberg’s report focuses on the need for a voter ID law, rather than the absentee ballot questions around which the District 54 controversy revolves, but it’s worth a read for the insight into why election integrity counts. Greenberg was beating this drum as long ago as 2009, when he wrote this fine Arkansas Project post on the issue.
The special election, which pits Democrat Hallum against Republican John Geelan, wraps up tomorrow after two weeks of early voting. We can only hope that, one day, campaigns in eastern Arkansas can aspire to the same level of electoral integrity as, say, Liberia.