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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

First step to voting? get registered

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Before Arkansans can make their voices heard in the May primary elections, they must register to vote by April 19, reminds Secretary of State Charlie Daniels.

"Registering to vote is easier than ever," Daniels said. "You can just fill out a form, mail it in, and your county clerk takes care of the rest. And if you apply when you renew your driver's license, you don't even have to mail anything."

To be eligible to register in Arkansas, a person must:

* Be a U.S. citizen.

* Be an Arkansas resident (residing in Arkansas at least 31 days prior to the first election in which they plan to vote).

* Be age 18 or turn 18 before the next election.

* Not be a convicted felon whose sentence has not been discharged or pardoned.

* Not be currently judged by a court as mentally incompetent as to their ability to vote.

* Not be registered elsewhere -- in another county in Arkansas or another state.

Registration applications are available in many convenient locations. Sites include county clerk offices, State Revenue Department Driver Services locations, public libraries, public assistance agencies, disability agencies and military offices. They are also available from the Secretary of State by calling the Voter Services division at 1-800-247-3312 or downloading from the Web site: www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/vote/vote.... Many groups are also conducting voter registration drives in local areas.

Applications must be postmarked by April 19 in order to qualify for voting in the May 18 primaries. Daniels encouraged new registrants to follow up on their applications with their county clerk, especially if they have not received confirmation within two weeks or within a few days of the election.

For those Arkansans registering to vote by mail, Daniels recommended including a copy of a current photo ID such as a driver's license or a utility bill or government document that shows a current name and address. Doing so will simplify the process of voting for the first time. He also urges those voters who might have moved to make sure their county clerk has the correct address on file.

"If your address has changed since you registered, even if you haven't changed counties, be sure to fill out a new registration form," Daniels said. "That will help ensure that you get to the right polling site without any trouble."

Primary elections will be held May 18, but citizens may cast absentee ballots beginning April 23 or they may vote early beginning May 3. Voters should contact their local county clerk for instructions on absentee and early voting in their area, Daniels said.