Early voting in Arkansas begins Tuesday, two weeks before the state’s primary election. Races include the presidential primaries, two state Supreme Court positions, and party challenges for Republicans in the 2nd district of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Locations will be open through Monday, Feb. 29, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
"We're excited that the election season is finally arriving," said Chris Powell, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. "We want to encourage people to get out and vote early and hopefully avoid the long lines on primary day."
In the last major Arkansas election in November 2014, Powell says 22 percent of registered voters took part. Of those, about 30 percent voted early or by absentee ballot. But he says presidential years typically see a slightly larger turnout.
Many Arkansas residents registered to vote in time for this election and Powell expects more later in the year. Exact figures weren't available.
"We saw a surge before the deadline on February 1st, which was the cutoff date for voting in the primary. We expect another big surge probably starting around August and September for the fall general election."
As part of a pilot program, four Arkansas counties – Boone, Sebastian, Columbia and Garland – will have new electronic touch screen voting machines. Powell says they hope to expand the use of such machines statewide as money becomes available.