The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, cooperating attorneys John E. Tull III and Noah P. Watson settled a federal lawsuit on behalf of Arkansas poll worker Barry Haas. Haas’ free-speech rights were disregarded when he was denied an appointed position for the September 2021 special Little Rock tax election due to participation in lawsuits and his personal political views. 

Kristi Stahr in her capacity as Chairwoman of the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners, and the Pulaski County Election Commission unlawfully denied Haas’ appointment as a poll worker after a Board of Election Commissioners meeting where Chairwoman Stahr wrongfully claimed he was refusing  on social media to follow Arkansas’s photo I.D. requirement as an election official. In fact, Mr. Haas had regularly followed and applied Arkansas’ voter I.D. law and Chairperson Stahr produced no evidence to the contrary, as none exists.

“Our client was retaliated against for exercising a fundamental right; everyone has a right to express their personal political views,” said Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “Members of the Pulaski County Board of Election Commissioners issued false claims about Mr. Haas who has served Pulaski County with integrity and dedication for nearly 20 years and has continued to uphold election laws making sure Arkansas elections are run smoothly.”

As part of the settlement Haas addressed the Pulaski County Election Commission earlier this week requesting his good name cleared from the smear, however sought no monetary damages or reimbursement for legal expenses. In his address to the commission Haas said, “I hope that the Settlement Agreement that includes specific training for election commissioners on the First Amendment rights of everyone, including poll workers, prevents any current or future poll worker from being retaliated against.”

“No one should be retaliated against by the government for exercising their rights to free speech or challenge unconstitutional policies and they must be checked when they do,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas.