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Sebastian County Election Commissioner removed from the position after felony record comes to light

Jason Vineyard was removed from his position as the chair of the Sebastian County Election commission after his two felony overdraft charges from 2003 became known.

SEBASTIAN COUNTY, Ark. — The Sebastian County election commission chairman has been removed from his position as his criminal record comes to light.

The election commission is tasked with administering, conducting, and tabulating all Sebastian county elections.

Jason Vineyard was the chair of the Sebastian County Election Commission. He pleaded guilty to two felony overdraft charges in 2003. His sentence included payment of more than $20,000 dollars in restitution. That money hasn't been fully paid back, according to court records.

Chris Powell is a spokesperson for the Arkansas Secretary of State's office.

"In the state of Arkansas, convicted felons are not allowed to vote, unless they have had their voting rights restored," said Powell. "So after you have fulfilled any sort of prison sentence, or paying fines, or if you've had been on parole or probation, you cannot have your voting rights restored."

In a letter Monday, the Sebastian County prosecuting attorney told County Clerk Sharon Brooks it is her "duty as the permanent registrar to cancel [Vineyard's] registration as a voter."

Brooks tells 5NEWS she has updated Vineyard's registration to reflect the felony charge.

According to the State Board of Election Commissioners, anyone serving on a county election commission must be a qualified elector of the state. That means one must not have been convicted of a felony without the sentence having been discharged or pardoned, according to the state board.

"It sounds like something fell through the cracks," said Powell. "At some point, in this process, I understand his original conviction was quite a number of years ago, and how it got missed in this process, I'm not sure."

"Who the chairman is going to be going forward and how that's going to be administered. You know, we're coming up on a significant election here in November. and so hopefully, all of this will get straightened out fairly quickly," Powell said.

The state board of election commissioners released a statement saying: 

State law requires the SBEC to investigate alleged violations of election law in an administrative process to enforce civil (i.e. non-criminal) violation of election law. Complaint regarding the 2022 General Election may be filed starting on September 22, 2022 and cannot be filed after 30 days following the election certification. The SBEC does not have authority to entertain complaints which relate to past elections.  In the event of a criminal violation of a past election enforcement would be the roll of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Records from the secretary of state's office reveal that Jason Vineyard had been voting since 2003. We reached out to Vineyard, but have not heard back as of Monday evening.

 

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