Early Voting Begins In Arkansas, Officials Named To Investigate Any Complaints

Oct 24, 2016

Voters In line Monday at the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock on the first day of early voting.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Early voting got underway in Arkansas Monday, with many voters saying they're ready for this campaign season, and the presidential race in particular, to be done.

"It was a hot mess, quite frankly," Paul Silman said with a laugh, "so I cannot wait for it to be over." He was among a steady stream of people casting ballots at the Pulaski County Regional Building in downtown Little Rock.

Pam Henline said it was important that she come out on the first day of early voting.

"I couldn't wait another second, I just couldn't. Enough is enough, we're hearing it all, now I can just turn everything off," she said, adding, "And I'm so happy to be here voting for the first female president

Henline is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, and said the assertion by some that the Democrat is the lessor of two evils "is not true. They are not equivalent at all and its been driving me crazy for several months."

As Lynese Wesley left the polling site, wearing a small "I voted early" sicker, she said she hopes there will be a strong turnout for this election.

"It's very dramatic and I wish everybody would come out and vote because we need to speak for not just ourselves, but for the whole country. We need to have someone in office that is actually for us in trying to work to make America really great again," Wesley said.

Pulaski County workers greet voters before leading them to voting machines Monday in Little Rock.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office projects that potentially 70 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters will cast a ballot. Late Monday afternoon a spokesman said 22,895 people had voted on the first day of early voting, and that only represented about two-thirds of Arkansas's 75 counties. Data on other counties wasn't immediately available.

Candice Boozman of Jacksonville said the presidential election was the key race that brought her to vote while in Little Rock to help with a school field trip.

"I think it's going to be pretty big for my children's future. I have 12-year-old kids, so this election is going to determine the next four or five years, possibly eight years. So I just felt it was important for me to make sure that my voice is heard in this year's election."

Early voting will continue until Monday, Nov. 7.

Meanwhile the U.S. Attorneys for the eastern and western districts of Arkansas Monday named representatives of their offices who will oversee the handling of any complaints about election fraud and voting rights abuses.

A joint statement said Assistant U.S. Attorney Hunter Bridges had been appointed to serve the eastern district, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Denis Dean would represent the western district.

"Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination," the statement said. 

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said key in ensuring the public’s confidence in the integrity of the election process is providing local points of contact.

Anyone with concerns about how the election is carried out can call 479-783-5125 for the western district of Arkansas, or 501-340-2600 for the eastern district, which includes Little Rock. The FBI will also have agents available to investigate election fraud or abuse and can be reached at 501-221-9100. Complaints can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section in Washington at 800-253-3931.