Candidates for Secretary of State debated on AETN Wednesday just hours before the Arkansas Supreme Court announced they struck down the state’s Voter ID law. The current Secretary of State, Republican Mark Martin, did not attend but Democrat Susan Inman and Libertarian Jacob Holloway went head to head for an hour. Both candidates noted Martin’s absence.
Holloway, the Libertarian, said debating is an honor and suggested Martin didn’t want to stand up to public scrutiny.
“You’ve got a candidate that is your incumbent that didn’t have the courage to make it up to the debate today and buddy you left your flag out in the field and here we are. This is our time to shine tonight and I want voters to know who had the courage to show up tonight,” said Holloway.
Martin told AETN he had a scheduling conflict. Inman said Martin has a pattern of being absent from important events. She referenced research from the liberal, investigative blog Blue Hog Report concluding Martin only worked 53 days over a four and half month period this summer.
“It’s very unfortunate that the current Secretary of State declined to appear. There are a lot of questions we all had to ask. But I did learn from the Blue Hog Report that was posted this morning that he has been renamed the secretary of Facebook,” said Inman.
Martin’s locations were based on his Facebook posts, suggesting he was three hours away from the Capitol, at his home in Prairie Grove, for 42 out of 95 business days. The Secretary of State is supposed to reside and work in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Supreme Court announced it struck down the state’s voter ID law after the debate was taped. The decision Wednesday upheld a ruling made by a lower court earlier this year, finding the 2013 photo ID requirement to be unconstitutional. But before the decision was released the candidates for Secretary of State debated about the Voter ID law.
Inman said Martin failed to prepare voters for the ID requirement during May’s primary election.
“We saw over a thousand absentee voters, otherwise eligible absentee voters, have their ballots tossed out in the primary election and that’s unacceptable. It’s especially unacceptable because the current Secretary of State didn’t bother to inform the citizens of this law,” said Inman.
Holloway, the Libertarian, agreed with Inman saying an ID requirement takes away from the right to vote and leads to lower turnout.
“You’ve got to candidates here that support your right to vote and we have an incumbent Secretary of State who has failed in his duties to properly let the people of Arkansas know that there was a huge change in our election laws and I’ve been around talking to County Clerks, election officials, and they’re telling me they’re turning old ladies away, they’re turning all kinds of people away who don’t have these IDs,” said Holloway.
The office of Secretary of State Mark Martin defended a legal challenge to the constitutionality of 2013’s Voter ID law. In a statement Martin said he was disappointed with the ruling.