- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Secretary of State Mark Martin is considering replacing voting machines statewide by the March primary election, causing worry among Pulaski County election officials who think the deadline might be too tight.

Director of elections Bryan Poe for the Pulaski County Election Commission said in a letter obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1FXUWCj ) that implementing such a change so close to an election year like 2016 could lead to confusion among voters and election officials and “unavoidable and unwanted disruptions in the voting process.

“We feel that implementing such a change in 2017, during off year elections, would be a more prudent course of action that would minimize these disruptions and have the added benefit of providing both you and us with more time to plan the transition, identify issues and solicit and evaluate additional voting system vendors,” Poe told Rob Hammons, elections division director for the secretary of state’s office, in a letter dated May 14.

Martin spokesman Chris Powell declined Friday to respond to Poe’s proposal.

“We appreciate input from all of our county officials as we go through this process,” Powell said.

Martin’s office has received three bids from voting machine companies in response to his request for proposals.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed legislation to move the state’s primary election for president and other offices from May 24 to March 1 for 2016.

The move comes as Arkansas is preparing for a White House race that features two candidates with state ties. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is seeking the Republican nomination, and Democratic hopeful former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton served 12 years as the state’s first lady.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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