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Early Voting a Popular Choice in Arkansas

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So far, early voter turnout in Arkansas is outpacing turnout in 2016. (Adobe Stock)
So far, early voter turnout in Arkansas is outpacing turnout in 2016. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
October 26, 2020

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Election Day is a week away and this year, many Arkansans are trying their hand at casting ballots in ways that may differ from their past voting methods.

Many county clerks are reporting high numbers of absentee ballot requests, after COVID-19 was approved as a reason to vote absentee.

Those requests must be received by county clerks' offices by tomorrow, Oct. 27.

Larry Larson of Little Rock typically votes in person, but due to the pandemic, said he and his wife requested absentee ballots. He explained it was a simple and secure process.

"There's been a lot of news about the ballot not being safe, or being lost or thrown away, or burned or whatever else," Larson stated. "But being able to track it online made it a lot safer, a lot easier and took some of the worry out of it."

People who want to vote in person but would rather avoid long lines on Election Day can vote early at local polling sites through Monday, Nov. 2.

According to the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office, 277,000 ballots were cast in the first four days of early voting this year, compared to 192,000 in 2016.

Ness Nehus, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Arkansas, said she plans to vote early as well, and recommends doing so as soon as possible.

"And so, if you do go vote in person, you may encounter other people voting who do not wear a mask," Nehus cautioned. "And so, if you have a particular health risk profile, or if you're very concerned about COVID, then absentee voting is really your safest option, in terms of minimizing exposure."

Larson reminded fellow Arkansans that they must bring a photo ID to the polls, and he encouraged folks to research their voting choices ahead of time.

"It's important to know all the issues on the ballot and any local issues," Larson urged. "Make sure that you are aware of them because usually, they're not well spelled out on the ballot itself. So, it's a lot easier to go in and be able to vote, and do so quickly and safely."

Absentee ballots sent by mail must be received by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Or they can be dropped off at the county clerk's office by Monday, Nov. 2.

Information on absentee voting and ballot tracking, early voting locations and hours, as well as sample ballots, all can be found through the Secretary of State's website sos.arkansas.gov.

Disclosure: AARP Arkansas contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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