LITTLE ROCK — A lawsuit alleging improper activities by the Jefferson County Election Commission should be dismissed, the state Republican Party argued in a court filing Thursday.
The party filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court by Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Johnson and voter Victor Johnson. They allege that on Oct. 28 the commission conferred in private in violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and that members of the commission acted as poll watchers that day and prevented some voters from voting.
The suit also alleges that the Republican Party designated Soffer as a poll watcher for Jefferson County, which the plaintiffs claim creates a conflict of interest because if Soffer were to challenge a voter and cause the voter to cast a provisional ballot, it would be up to the commission, on which Soffer serves, to decide whether that provisional ballot was valid.
The suit seeks a ruling that no member of the Jefferson County Election Commission may serve as a poll watcher and that any votes challenged by an election commissioner be counted.
In its motion Thursday, the state GOP said Soffer was designated as a poll watcher for the specific purpose of addressing issues concerning Patricia Johnson’s use of voting machines, and that he withdrew as a poll watcher after the matter was resolved.
The designation of Soffer as a poll watcher was not improper, the party argued. It also said in the motion that no controversy exists because Soffer has not prevented anyone from voting and that if an election commissioner were to challenge a voter, the commissioner could recuse from participating in any discussion or action by the commission regarding the voter’s provisional ballot.
The party also said the Jefferson County Election made no decisions outside of a public meeting held with due notice to the press and public.
Soffer said in a statement Thursday, “My action on the first day of early voting at the Jefferson County Courthouse in the county clerk’s office were all within the law and necessary to pre-empt election fraud by the Democratic Party and county clerk. Three prepared voting machines were discovered and subsequently removed from county clerk’s private office, as witnessed by a State Board of Election Commissioners election monitor. This was the only time I held myself out as a poll watcher.”