BCN Staff – Sept. 19, 2021 – Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth on Friday (Sept. 17) publicly announced her intentions to seek re-election as the top election official in Arkansas’ largest county and city. Hollingsworth made her announcement during the fast-growing weekly BCN Headlines radio show on KABF 88.3 FM with BCN Chief Creative Officer and Black Consumer News Publisher Wesley Brown.
Hollingsworth made history in the 2019 election when she became the first black woman elected clerk of Pulaski County. In announced her re-election bid, Hollingsworth said she wants to continue the work that she has already started in the Pulaski County Circuit and Clerk’s office that covers a growing population of 399,125, according to the 2020 Census data released earlier this month.
“I launched my reelection campaign last night (Sept. 16) and had a fundraiser, so today we just want to do the work that need to be done in the clerk’s office and talk about the National Voter Registration Act and all of the new election laws,” said Hollingsworth.
As one of only eighteen of the state’s 75 counties that combined the responsibilities of the circuit and county clerk, Hollingworth’s office handles everything from marriage licenses to voter registration to real estate records and court filings. The clerk is also the voter registrar and real estate recorder for the county, providing administrative and record-keeping support to the 17 Circuit Court judges of the Sixth Judicial District.
The local clerk’s office also collaborates with attorneys and title companies to record and index all land transactions conducted in the county. The office, located in the Pulaski County Courthouse in downtown Little Rock, has nearly 100 employees in ten departments – administration, accounting, central receiving, court clerks, imaging, information technology, juvenile, real estate, records, and voter registration.
Earlier in the week, Hollingsworth’s office oversaw the special election for Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s Rebuild The Rock” sales tax initiative. According to the preliminary results of 72 precincts from the Pulaski County Election Commission, 13,025 or 61.99% rejected the one percent sales and compensating sales tax, while only 7,987 or 38.01% backed the mayor’s sales tax extension.
Before the election, Hollingsworth said there were approximately 128,000 eligible registered voters for this election. Early results show that only 21,046 or about 16.4% showed up at the polls. In compliant with the NVRA, Hollingsworth’s office mailed notifications to 68,425 registered voters in the county requesting confirmation of their current residential address. This number includes 40,145 confirmation cards and 28,280 cancellation cards.
As the county and city’s top election official, Hollingsworth would not offer her opinion on the special election. However, she noted the low turnout was not unusual for sales tax initiative approved on July 29 by the Little Rock City Board to be put on the ballot for only Little Rock residents living in Pulaski County.
“Special elections don’t often bring large crowds, so that is what you had.” Hollingsworth said matter-of-factly in response to a question from Burt, adding a similar 2012 ballot initiative for the first penny sales tax referendum under former Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola had an even smaller voter turnout. “You had the same vote in 2012 (but) this was a higher turnout. It is because of the naysayers in terms of really getting out there to vote against (Rebuild The Rock).”
“When people don’t show up for a special election, or even for your Pulaski County and Little Rock School District (mill) elections that are coming up in November, they are just not paying attention and don’t have as much interest as they would in a presidential year or like next year when we are electing the governor,” commented Hollingsworth, who four-year term began on Jan. 1, 2019.
During the hourlong show, Burt, Brown and Hollingsworth and call-in guests, including Little Rock civil rights icon Annie Abrams, also discussed the defeat of Scott sales tax initiative and future challenges for the city first Black mayor, including potential opponents in the 2022 general election. The show also touched on other top national headlines, including President Joe Biden’s national vaccine mandate and the impact of the special recall election in California won by current Gov. Gavin Newsom on the nation’s Pro-Trump movement, including the Arkansas gubernatorial election in 2020.
In discussing the Arkansas election process and the more than two dozen new Republican Party supermajority in the 2021 legislative session that became law last month, Hollingsworth said she believed many of those changes were directed at her office, which has the largest Black and Democratic electorate.
Among many things, those new voter suppression laws will affect poll workers, absentee ballots, and the work of election commissioners and county clerks’ offices in all 57 counties across the state. To hear the full interview with Hollingsworth and the discussion on her efforts to improve voter access in Pulaski County, go the BCN Headlines roundup page here, where you can also access audio to recent interview with Mayor Scott and Little Rock City Councilor Antwan Phillips. You can also subscribe to Angel and Wesley’s BCN Today podcast on Anchor/Spotify here to access all past BCN Headlines broadcasts.
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