Low voter turnout in Arkansas school board elections

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September 18, 2013


By Alex Schaffer

Low voter turnout was the common factor in Tuesday's Arkansas school board elections, with less than 1,000 votes cast in each race despite them taking place in three of the state's five largest cities. Less than 0.5% of Little Rock residents voted in the state's largest school district election. Turnout remained low despite the efforts of candidates and groups such as Arkansas Learns, which led a statewide Get-Out-The-Vote campaign.[1] Columnist Jason Tolber reported statewide turnout at approximately 36,000 voters, which represents only about 2% of all registered voters in Arkansas.[2] A proposal to move the elections to the November uniform election date was defeated in the state House after passing the Senate.

Several school boards around Arkansas will be welcoming new members in the coming weeks, since our newcomers were victorious in Tuesday's elections. Florene Armstrong and Tara Shephard will be facing off in a runoff election to be held in two weeks time, with the winner joining fellow newcomer Charlie C.E. McAdoo on the Little Rock School District Board of Directors.[3] Michelle McCaslin Cook will be joining the Springdale Public School Board after a successful opposed race, while Dean Martin fended off a challenge from Mark Raines to keep his seat on the Cabot Public School Board. Fort Smith Public Schools incumbents Dr. David Hunton and Susan McFerran also managed to lead successful re-election campaigns. Greg Adams, Curtis Clements and Jeffrey Alan Williams were incumbents who were uncontested in Little Rock, Rogers and Springdale school districts respectively.

Spotlight: Little Rock School District

A runoff election will take place between Florene Armstrong and Tara Shephard on October 1 after the Tuesday's election separated the two candidates by just 35 votes. The winner will join fellow newcomer Charlie C.E. McAdoo and re-elected incumbent Greg Adams on the Little Rock School District Board of Directors as overseers of Arkansas' largest school district. This election took place in the wake of the district's new dress code policy that has attracted attention from several national news outlets.[4] The district is also facing a large achievement gap that has shown black students achieving approximately 38% lower test scores in literacy and mathematics across all grade levels.[5] Following the ousting of incumbent Tommy Branch Jr., the board retains its black majority and will now feature a majority of women.


Cabot Public School District
Position 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Dean Martin: 653
UncheckedBox.jpg Mark Raines: 318

Little Rock School District
Zone 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Charlie C.E. McAdoo: 383
UncheckedBox.jpg Kenneth A. Davis: 79

Zone 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Greg Adams

Zone 6
UncheckedBox.jpg Florene Armstrong: 157
UncheckedBox.jpg Tommy Branch Jr.: 113
UncheckedBox.jpg Tara Shephard: 192

Conway Public Schools
At-large Position 5
UncheckedBox.jpg Eleanore B. Damico: 163
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Adam Lamey: 639

Rogers School District
Zone 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Curtis Clements

Fort Smith Public Schools
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Dr. David Hunton: 505
UncheckedBox.jpg Andrew Mackey: 172

Zone II
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Susan McFerran

Springdale Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Brian Moore: 379
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Michelle McCaslin Cook: 451

Zone 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Jeffrey Alan Williams: 306

See also