On the final day of early voting, the wait was about a half-hour for those casting a ballot at the Pulaski County Regional Building in downtown Little Rock. Some said they were surprised by the wait, but that the line was moving at a moderate pace.
Several said they were ambivalent about the major races, but always vote. Others said ballot issue five, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour by 2017, spurred them to turnout.
“Issue five stands out in my mind a lot, a decent wage for the American people. People can’t hardly survive off the minimum wage they have now. To give them a chance to improve their quality of life and take care of their families is important to me,” said Ramon Smith, who works for the Department of Human Services in Little Rock.
Also waiting were Albert Payton and his wife Elizabeth. Both are Republicans who say they vote the party line. He works at Walmart and she works in a hotel. They said the only issue they disagree about is the minimum wage, which he supports.
“Because everything has gone up, gas has gone up, groceries have gone up. Everything has gone up. The politicians give themselves a raise every year, so I think we need to raise it,” he said.
“I’m against the minimum wage raise, that’s where I differ from him,” said his wife. “You raise the minimum wage and everything goes up. I think there’s a better way to do it.”
Polls show strong support for increasing the minimum wage in Arkansas. Another voter, Steve Butler works in property management in North Little Rock. He said he was voting for Democrats. He used to be a Republican but that he’s tired of hearing Obama criticized in campaign ads this midterm.
“They have him demonized like he’s the devil himself. He saved the country from a depression and deserves credit for that,” said Butler. He's not worried about statistics indicating likely Republican wins in the major races.
“I think the turnout is going to be large, I they’re going to be in for a surprise.”
Early voting has been significantly higher this year in Arkansas. According to the Secretary of State’s office, over 307,106 ballots have already been cast.