Cara Gean, who continues to refuse to explain her vote against a voting site at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, is the new chair of the Sebastian County Election Commission. She was elected to the post at Wednesday’s (Oct. 5) commission meeting.
Gean nominated Randy McFadden, the newest member of the commission, to serve as chairman at the start of Wednesday’s meeting, but Commissioner Lee Webb said he could not second the motion because McFadden had not yet completed training. The Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners is required to train and test county election commissioners and county election coordinators, according to the State Board of Commissioners website.
The State Board provides each member of the county board of election commissioners with a copy of this comprehensive procedures’ manual and each county election commissioner is required to attend training provided by the SBEC prior to the preferential primary election.
“Following this training, the commissioner must take a test covering the essential skills and knowledge associated with being a county election commissioner,” the website states.
If the commissioner passes this test, he or she is certified. Election commission chairs must be properly certified members. Webb said he did not have any objection to McFadden serving as chair, but couldn’t legally do so until he had passed the test and was certified. McFadden said he was told he was trained prior to Wednesday’s meeting, but he did not specifically ask anyone if he was certified. He said in the meeting he would not be able to be tested until next year.
McFadden, 63, of Greenwood was sworn in as one of the two Republican members of the commission on Sept. 16. He replaced Jason Vineyard. Vineyard, who was the former chair of the commission, was removed from the election commission Sept. 12 following notice from the Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that his voter registration should be canceled because of an outstanding felony conviction.
Vineyard was charged in 2002 with felony overdraft after writing more than $20,000 in hot checks. The court records show he was ordered to pay restitution, court cost and other fees. However, Vineyard has not fully paid restitution and other fines, and his case remains active. Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue said the court withheld imposition of sentence for a period of 10 years based on condition of good behavior and the payment of restitution.
Larry Bishop, chairman of the Sebastian County Republican Committee, said the committee selected McFadden to replace Vineyard on Sept. 15.
Wednesday, Gean suggested selecting a new chairman of the committee should be tabled until it was confirmed whether McFadden is certified. Sebastian County Election Coordinator Meghan Hassler said a chairman had to be selected before any further business could be conducted. McFadden nominated Gean. Webb seconded the motion.
Gean would not comment on becoming the new election commission or answer any questions from reporters on any topic following the meeting. She would not respond to why she would not answer questions, except to say, “I am not answering any questions.” McFadden also did not answer questions Wednesday.
According to the State Board of Election Commissioners website, county election commissioners are responsible for: Altering the boundaries of existing election precincts; Establishing new election precincts; Establishing a polling site for each election precinct; Selecting and appointing election officials; Providing public notice of the time and polling sites for holding elections; Providing public notice of the candidates and offices to be elected; Providing ballots for absentee and early voting and voting on election day; Providing election supplies to the election officials; Completing a canvass of the returns of any election; Certifying the results of elections; and Providing a recount of the returns upon the petition of a candidate.
The commission also signed the notice of election and approved the list of election workers at the meeting Wednesday.