Controversial Two Rivers Millage Measure Fails

Bond election caught in accusations of voter suppression.

OLA, Ark. -- Nearly 59 percent of voters in the Two Rivers School District voted no on a millage extension that would have built a safe room at the Two Rivers Elementary School.

Tuesday's bond election came after accusations of voter suppression. Perry County officials say Two Rivers failed to give proper notice about the election, forcing Perry County residents in the district to travel upwards of 40 minutes to vote in Yell County. Some Perry residents, like Don Shamsie, believed the school intentionally hoped to keep voter turnout low to ensure the millage extension would pass.

"They were trying to skew the election," Shamsie said. "In the last two millages they've tried to pass, the Perry County people have outvoted them and voted them down."

What Shamsie calls "deception" by Two Rivers appears to have only driven greater voter turnout out of Perry. Many helped coordinate carpooling to help get as much people to the polls as possible. We're told one woman even logged 66 miles shuttling voters across county lines.

The Two Rivers superintendent says he originally asked the Yell County elections office for six polling places but was only granted two, in Ola and Plainview. A poll worker at Ola Tuesday said she saw more people from Perry County than Yell County come in to vote.

"Karma will get you," Shamsie said. "We're going to hold them accountable."

Proving that when it comes to exercising their rights, Perry County neighbors can go the distance.

Also Tuesday, the Perry County Election Commission voted unanimously to file a formal complaint against Two Rivers schools with the Secretary of State's office. Depending on the complaint's outcome, the entire election could be thrown out.


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