Top Arkansas election official resigns for job at Department of Education
Daniel Shults, the director of the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, will resign to take a position in the state Department of Education as an attorney.
The board voted Wednesday to make its chief counsel, Chris Madison, interim director, beginning Nov. 15.
Shults, who was previously chief counsel, has been the board’s chief executive since December 2018, and he oversaw the implementation of Arkansas’ voter ID law.
In recent elections, he has led the board’s first large-scale audits of election result accuracy, and most recently, he has been a vocal proponent of election integrity in Arkansas, rejecting proposals from the far-right to do away with voting machines in favor of hand-counted paper ballots.
“It has been a true honor and a privilege,” Shults told the board on Wednesday. “I’ll miss elections, but I know it will be in good hands.”
Shults was well-liked and respected by members of board and lawmakers and election officials from both political parties.
“Daniel, you have been an asset to the state; there is no doubt,” Secretary of State John Thurston said. “He answers the phone every time I’ve ever called, and he has taken the hits for me at times when things are coming my way.”
Thurston is chairman of the seven-member State Board of Election Commissioners. The board oversees the administration of elections, provides training to local elected officials and distributes election funds to counties. It also investigates election-related complaints.
The board voted to have Commissioner Bilenda Harris-Ritter lead the search for a new permanent director. Typically, the board will interview a handful of top applicants before voting on a new hire.