The landscape in Arkansas
The Election Denier movement is always evolving. One of the recent tactics commonly employed by Election Deniers and their allies is the creation of special units to investigate and prosecute election crimes, even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud and layers of checks are in place to detect and prosecute the few instances when it does happen. Those units are supposedly on the hunt for voter fraud, but they’re solutions in search of a problem. In practice, they are a way to intimidate voters and potential election workers and volunteers. Ultimately, they contribute to eroding public trust in elections.
Arkansas’s Attorney General, Tim Griffin, is not classified as an Election Denier. But his office created a special Election Integrity Unit in March 2023 and encouraged people to call a hotline to report “potential election law violations.” A state law signed in 2023 blocks state and county officials from accepting donations to support election funding. And one member of Congress from Arkansas — Rep. Rick Crawford — was among the 147 who voted to overturn 2020 election results.
0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.
Elections are run by the states. In Arkansas, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.
Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections
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How Arkansas compares
Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Arkansas compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.
Election Denial in Southeast States
Sitting official is an Election Denier
- In Florida, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is an Election Denier and appointed Cord Byrd as Florida’s Secretary of State in May 2022.
- In North Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
- In South Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the South Carolina Election Commission.
- In Tennessee, the Secretary of State is appointed by the legislature.
- In Virginia, the Governor appoints the Commissioner of Elections.
Voter turnout over time
Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Arkansas elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.
Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.
Beyond the ballot box
Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.
Four of these bills were enacted. They fell into the categories of imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties and creating unworkable burdens in election administration.