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Long Lines At Many Sites As Arkansans Go To The Polls

Sarah Whites-Koditschek
Arkansas Public Media

It's Election Day and Arkansans have until 7:30 p.m. to get in line to cast their ballot. The Secretary of State's office has projected high voter turnout and reports early voting totals exceeding the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office says more than 606,000 Arkansans took advantage of early voting, compared to about 452,000 in 2012.

For those who waited until Election Day, Bryan Poe, director of elections in Pulaski County, says "Bring your patience with you because with the turnout as heavy as we're seeing, there's a good chance that you're going to be waiting for a while."

Credit Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media
Arkansas Public Media
Jerome Burns, 65, helps neighbor Paulette Lamar, 69, leave the poll at the Arkansas Arts Center. They say they've never missed an election.

He says there have been no major problems in the county, just issues typical with major elections, including staffing or equipment. There were problems with some ballot scanners, which Poe says were fixed or replaced. One location had a ballot printing problem.

At polling sites with long waits, anyone in line by 7:30 p.m. will be able to vote.

The presidential race nearly entirely overshadowed the rest of the ballot for many voters who spoke with KUAR. Carol Harper says she cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton at the Dunbar Recreation Center in a reliably blue precinct in Little Rock. 

"This is definitely the most important one I've voted in," said the sexagenarian, "Really, I'm trying to think of a more important election and I can't."

Abigail Marshall thought along the same lines. "This election is going to be a game changer in America, either way. It could be something historic or something that in my opinion would be pretty catastrophic."

The attention given to the presidential race didn't mean Marshall wasn't prepared for the rest of the ballot too.

"I read up on all the issues on the ballot because I wanted to minimize my time here," she said. "I knew before going in exactly what I was for and what I was against."

Harper, a long time voter, had her list of down ballot decisions handy too, but the vitriolic tone of the campaign is what really motivated her this year.

"I voted to keep that greedy, hateful... I can't think of enough nasty words... but to keep him out," Harper said about Donald Trump. "There wasn't even anything to think about, with his ugly face running for office. I'm glad it's over with."

Little Rock resident Brenda Barber, a musician and IT worker, was one of many women voters at the Dunbar polling site on Tuesday morning who filled in their ballot bubble for Clinton. President Barack Obama took precinct 118 with 86 percent of the vote in 2012.

"I got to cast my vote for a women for President of the United States of America," said Barber. "It's a great day."

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.
Jacob Kauffman is a former news anchor and reporter for KUAR.
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