Family Council Action Committee Opposes Medical Lawsuit Amendment

my_trusty_gavelThe following press release is from Family Council Action Committee.

On Tuesday Family Council Action Committee announced its opposition to a state constitutional amendment authorizing the Arkansas Legislature to cap noneconomic damages in medical injury lawsuits against healthcare facilities.

Family Council Action Committee Executive Director Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “I support other types of tort reform, but not Issue 4. This amendment simply goes too far, because it lets the Arkansas Legislature severely cap the amount of money juries can award to victims of negligence.”

Cox said the amendment puts people who are already vulnerable at increased risk. “I’ve spoken out on this issue since the Arkansas Legislature tried to pass similar legislation in 2003. I really see it as a pro-life issue. This amendment leaves too many opportunities for nursing homes to neglect residents and get away with it. If a grandmother with dementia dies in a corporate nursing home because the facility is under-staffed and neglects her care, our current system punishes the facility financially. I really think the possibility of being sued and being forced to pay expensive damages motivates some facilities to provide good care. If you cap damages through this amendment, you make it that much harder to hold corporate nursing homes accountable for neglect.”

Cox said the amendment indirectly undermines the right to a trial by jury. “We trust juries to decide if a person is guilty or not guilty; if they ought to go to prison; and even whether or not someone ought to get the death penalty. If we trust juries to decide those things, can’t we trust juries to decide how much money a nursing home ought to pay when its negligence causes someone’s death? Right now, juries issue verdicts in those cases on a case-by-case basis. This amendment essentially lets the Arkansas Legislature strip our juries of that ability.”

Cox said if the amendment passes, lawmakers will be forced to put a dollar value on human life. “No one wants to put a dollar value on a person’s life, but I’m afraid that’s exactly what the amendment will force the Arkansas Legislature to do. Lawmakers are going to be under tremendous pressure to make it so that the family of a grandmother who dies due to negligence in the nursing home cannot sue for more than $250,000. If lawmakers do that, in a roundabout way they’re saying the facts of the case don’t matter; $250,000 is all that grandmother was worth. If that’s not putting a dollar value on human life, I’m not sure what is.”

Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c)(4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Washington County Election Officials Refuse to Kowtow to Atheists

According to the Associated Press, Washington County election officials in Arkansas will continue using churches as polling sites despite complaints from an atheist group.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation reportedly sent a letter to the election commission discouraging the commission from using churches as polling sites on Election Day.

However, when it’s all said and done, there is no constitutional problem with letting a church serve as a polling site–and as the AP notes, election commissioners have struggled in the past to find enough polling locations for elections.

You can read more here.

Updated: When You Vote, Double-Check Your Ballot

touch_screen_lgA few of you may have seen stories circulating late last week and this week about problems with electronic voting machines in Arkansas.

According to KARK news, at least one person who voted early reported that when she used the touchscreen voting machine to cast her ballot, the machine misread her vote; instead of marking the candidates she selected, the machine marked the candidates’ opponents. In this particular case, KARK writes, the woman voted for several Republicans, but the machine recorded the votes as being for Democrats.

According to election officials, electronic voting machines have to be calibrated in order for the touchscreens to work properly. As the machines are used over and over again, those calibrations can change and the machines begin to malfunction.

Review Your Vote Before Casting It

The lesson here is regardless of whether you are using a paper ballot or an electronic one, always review your ballot carefully before you submit your vote.

If you incorrectly mark a paper ballot, you should be allowed to get a new ballot from a poll worker. If you spot a mistake on an electronic ballot, you should be able to correct it before submitting your vote.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, electronic voting machines offer two ways to review your ballot before you submit it. The first is on a “Review” screen; when you are done marking candidates, you simply click “Review” and review your vote in much the same way you might review a purchase on a website before actually submitting your purchase.

The second is on a paper receipt to the left of the touchscreen. The electronic voting machine prints out a paper receipt with your votes recorded on it. When you review your votes on the screen, I would suggest also reviewing the paper receipt to make sure they both match with how you voted.

If you spot a mistake, follow the instructions on the screen to correct it or ask a poll worker for help. And after you’ve corrected your mistake, review your ballot again–just to make sure the machine accurately recorded your correction.

Conclusion

Reviewing your ballot is simply another part of voting responsibly. If you spot a problem with a ballot or if you think an electronic voting machine may be malfunctioning, notify a poll worker immediately.

Update: KATV reported last night that Pulaski County has received about a dozen of complaints of “vote flipping,” with votes cast for one candidate being recorded for the candidate’s opponent. Similar reports have come out of Lonoke County and Franklin County. Election officials are recalibrating voting machines daily and encouraging every voter who uses the machines to verify their ballot before submitting.