Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office on Friday removed all but one Libertarian candidate from the website listing candidates who filed for state office in 2018 elections.
The one exception is a candidate on the ballot in a special election for a Senate seat to be held the same day as the party primaries.
Michael Pakko, chair of the Libertarian Party in Arkansas, told me by e-mail this had happened before.
Yes, our candidates disappeared off the list over the course of Friday morning. Not surprisingly, members of our party found it quite disconcerting, particularly since a similar problem happened in the last electoral cycle. I have been told by officials at the Secretary of State’s office that it is because of their preparations for primary elections, but we find that unacceptable. Putting the candidates of long-established political parties on one list and relegating others to obscurity (or maybe a separate list, if that was their plan) gives the appearance of second-class status for our candidates.
I have been assured that the full list will be restored Monday. In the meantime, we are left with no official listing of our candidates (except for Willliam Whitfield Hyman, who is running in both the special election and general election for state senate district 8).
Christopher Olson, the party’s candidate for secretary of state, had plenty more to say about it:
It was quite disconcerting given that a similar “glitch” had occurred in 2015, when all of our candidates disappeared from their candidate listing for the better part of a morning.
Hours later they informed us that they were preparing a primary election list to send to the county clerks. Why this necessitated deletion of 99% of our candidates from their online list was not explained.
I let them know in no uncertain terms that we adamantly opposed any segregation of our candidates to a secondary list, and that the practical effect of their actions was to de legitimize our candidates in the eyes of the public.
As a candidate for Secretary of State, I am concerned that election officials did not think through this decision that negatively impacted a recognized political party. Our candidates deserve the same respect and consideration as the other two parties, especially from a government office.
They have assured us that they will remedy the situation Monday, but that still leaves most of our candidates absent from the official record on the first weekend following the filing period.
I’m sure that there was no malicious intent. But I’m also sure they would not be fixing the problem if I had not brought some pressure to bear on Twitter. We will continue to keep a close eye on the situation. And if elected I will ensure that this will not happen again.
I’ve sent a message to the office, but it’s Saturday, so I haven’t heard back. Mark Martin is term-limited. Land Commissioner John Thurston and Rep. Trevor Drown are seeking the Republican nomination. Susan Inman, a veteran in the office during Sharon Priest’s tenure, is the Democratic candidate.
UPDATE: From Chris Powell in Martin’s office:
We did have all candidate information up during filing. The site is currently reflecting candidates for the primary election only. We will have information on all candidates back up soon. We are working on a fix.”