Schneider criticized for canceling voter registration
Eureka Springs alderwoman Mickey Schneider is under fire after canceling her voter registration last week.
Alderman David Mitchell brought the matter to the city council table Monday night, handing out copies of letters written by individuals who work in the Carroll County Clerk’s Office in Berryville. Schneider, alderwoman Peg Adamson and city clerk Ann Armstrong left during an argument in the first 15 minutes of the meeting over approval of the minutes from previous meetings, and the remaining council members tabled the matter until the next meeting.
A letter from Carroll County deputy clerk Sherry Cochrane says Schneider called the office on July 5 demanding that her voter registration be removed from the system.
“She was extremely rude and offensive and repeatedly told me that I needed to do my job and refuse to send our county information to the President,” Cochrane writes.
Cochrane says she asked Schneider to come to the office or mail a written statement to cancel her voter registration. Schneider did just that, according to a letter written by county clerk Jamie Correia. Correia says Schneider and her husband walked into the office on July 6 demanding for the state voter registration computer to be shut down.
“[Schneider] raised her voice and kept pointing her finger at me telling me I will be sued for giving out voter registration information that is public record,” Correia writes.
Schneider and her husband removed their voter registration information from the system, Correia says. When they left, Correia says, she called Armstrong at the courthouse in Eureka Springs to inform her about what happened.
“I … told her how [Schneider] came in to my office and how she spoke to myself and my employees and how she unregistered herself as a registered voter and how by law you have to be a registered voter in order to be an elected official,” Correia writes.
Armstrong said she’d give Schneider time to calm down, Correia says, and then call her to explain the issue.
“Then Ann asked me if she chose to re-register would this be OK … I said absolutely, and Ann thanked me,” Correia writes.
Schneider said she did re-register within 24 hours, saying she spoke to Mayor Butch Berry about it to confirm that she could still serve on the council.
“He agreed when I said, ‘So, I’m re-registered again in less than 24 hours,’ so I’m good to go,” Schneider said.
The reason she wanted to cancel her voter registration, Schneider said, is because President Donald Trump recently asked states to turn voter registration information over to his administration. Schneider said that information includes her name, party information, who she voted for, her Social Security number and her mother’s maiden name. Much of this information, she said, is not public record.
“You cannot go anywhere in this county and say, ‘I want her mother’s maiden name. I want her Social Security number,’” Schneider said. “The stuff they might have wanted that’s public record …they can get it themselves.”
She added, “It’s an illegal act on the part of the president and his group. All voter information is private. It is [Correia’s] sworn job to protect the people of this county, and she did not … so when we went in and canceled our registration, she got yelled at by both of us.”
Cochrane said all voter registration information is public record already.
“I don’t have the ability or the position to withhold it. That is something the state controls,” Cochrane said.
It didn’t take long, Schneider said, before she re-registered.
“That keeps me as a councilman in legal standing and takes away my past history so nobody can get my history,” Schneider said. “Plus, it gave [Correia] plenty of time to make the five million calls she was going to make. I waited to see how many people she’d call to complain. I got calls from state department heads laughing and asking what was going on.”
When she spoke with Berry, Schneider said, she asked him to contact the Arkansas Municipal League to confirm she could still serve on the council. Berry confirmed that, saying Schneider is still an alderwoman in good standing.
“The municipal league stated that she re-registered, so she’s still on city council,” Berry said.
Schneider said she knew Mitchell would put the matter on the council’s agenda when she spoke to him on the phone July 8.
“I explained to him what I had done and he decided as a councilman I had no right to a personal opinion, so let’s make it public awareness of my personal opinion,” Schneider said. “I had to explain to him that was not true … that I was a citizen first and a councilman second. In my 10 years of serving, I have always reiterated that. Therefore, if I don’t like what is being done, I will say so and take action.”
Mitchell told her he wanted to get her removed from the council, Schneider said. Mitchell said that wasn’t true. The reason he put the issue on the agenda, he said, was to reprimand Schneider for her behavior as an elected official.
“It’s a code of conduct that we passed at the first of the year. That code of conduct clearly covers what’s been going on since the beginning of the year,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been belittled, abused and verbally attacked by Mickey, and now she’s continued that behavior as a council person representing this city and she goes to the county clerk’s office and tells the administrative clerk that the judge needs to come down to the [Correia’s] office, because she’s going to nail her ass to the wall.”
Mitchell added, “When I talk to Mickey, she says she has the right to do that because she’s a citizen. Yeah, but you’re a councilperson. You can’t take that hat off.”
He never planned to remove Schneider from the council, Mitchell said.
“I never said that at all. I brought it up at the council meeting because she’s a peer. I’m a peer, and this issue needs to be addressed at the council table,” Mitchell said. “Her behavior is out of control, and that’s a problem, and it’s gone on and on and on … it just doesn’t stop, and now it’s escalated to where she can go over to the county clerk’s office and use the f-word and threaten them and it’s insane. It’s absolutely behavior that’s unbecoming of a councilperson in this city.”
Mitchell said he believed Schneider left the meeting early to avoid talking about the issue.
“The whole blowup took place over the minutes. That whole thing was way too rehearsed,” Mitchell said. “I know exactly what she was doing.”
Schneider said that isn’t why she left.
“Oh hell no,” she said. “He told me Saturday night he was going to put it on the agenda. I kept telling him he was going to regret it, because he was going to lose.”
The reason she and Armstrong left, Schneider said, is because of the way alderwoman Kristi Kendrick criticized the minutes Armstrong handed out to the council.
“Ann walked out because of the same crap with Kristi,” Schneider said. “Kristi has been told you don’t waste the viewer’s time, the citizen’s time with stuff you’re supposed to deal with on a personal level.”
Mitchell said Schneider has a problem with Kendrick and said so on the phone July 8.
“For some reason, she took off on Kristi Kendrick. It was very unacceptable, very unprofessional, abusive, antagonistic behavior,” Mitchell said. “It’s wrong. It’s inappropriate.”
Schneider said she stands by her actions.
“I will die for my voters to continue having their rights and being protected. That’s what anybody in any position dealing with elections should be willing to do to protect their rights,” Schneider said. “I will die for my voters. I will die for my citizens to keep them free and clear. That’s why I did what I did, why I’ll do it again and why nobody is going to tell me I don’t have the right to be doing that.”
Berry said he’s unhappy with Schneider’s actions and the way other council members responded to them.
“Any time a city council member or mayor acts inappropriately, it’s always a concern, because we do represent the city,” Berry said. “I’m disappointed in the way everyone is acting. We have bigger issues to deal with than to worry about personalities, and especially about things we have no control over. I have no idea why or where this is coming from.”
The council scheduled a special meeting on the issue for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, at City Hall.