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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Early Voting Off to a Strong Start

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Candidates are making their final pitches, just days from the Nov. 6 General Election, but voters are already casting early votes in large numbers. [Order this photo]
Early voting for the Nov. 6 election began on Monday, Oct. 22 and, through Saturday, Oct. 26, 771 people had taken advantage of early voting in Fulton County, and there had been 659 early voters in Izard County.

"I would say we are seeing more early voting than we have had in past presidential elections," Fulton County Clerk Vickie Bishop said. "We were really busy the first day, and there was a bit of a wait to vote. On Saturday, we had 50 voters, which is probably the most we've ever seen on a Saturday."

Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on remaining weekdays (Nov. 1 and 2), and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. On Nov. 5, election eve, early voting will end at 5 p.m.

Both Fulton and Izard Counties have about 7,000 registered voters, so it appears well over 10 percent of registered voters will choose the early voting option before the Nov. 5 deadline.

County Clerk's offices continue to ask voters to contact their office before election day, if they have had a change of address, so records can be made current.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, voting sites will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Voters should present identification, such as a driver's license or voter registration card, as they sign in to vote.

The general election ballot begins with a vote for President and Vice-President. Those who have not seen a sample ballot may be surprised to find that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are not the only candidates to choose from. Because there are also candidates for the Green Party, Libertarian Party and Socialism and Liberation Party, the Obama/Biden ticket is third on the ballot and Romney/Ryan are listed fourth.

Next on the ballot for area residents is the vote for the U.S. Congress, District One seat, which lists Green and Libertarian Party Candidates in addition to incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Crawford and his Democratic Challenger Scott Ellington. Candidates for the voter's State Senate and State Representative District are next, followed by county offices.

Finally, there are five proposed Constitutional Amendments on the ballot, although two will not be voted on because the Arkansas Supreme Court has declared them invalid. Both of those issues involve private companies seeking the right to open gambling establishments in the state.

Proposed amendments where votes will count include the proposed levy of a "Temporary sales and use tax of one-half (cent)" to create a fund to improve four lane highways in the state.

A second proposed amendment would allow cities and counties in Arkansas to create special taxing districts to fund development and redevelopment projects, or to pay unfunded liabilities for police and fire pensions.

The fifth proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, is the most controversial. It seeks to allow establishment of "a system for the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries," or to allow the "cultivation of marijuana for qualifying patients" who do not live near dispensaries.

While the medical marijuana proposal has received almost no public discussion in north central Arkansas, it has been a hot issue in Little Rock, where those for or against medical marijuana have waged contentious campaigns.

During past Presidential elections, there have been heavy voter turnouts that resulted in long lines and waits to get the opportunity to vote, so those who can may want to vote in the middle of the day to avoid busier times before people go to work or get off work.

On election day, the process of counting absentee and early voting results will begin at 3:00 p.m.

When the polls close at 7:30 p.m., each polling site will note the voting results from its machines, and all of the results will be tabulated and released at the Fulton County Courthouse.

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