Election officials are preparing for an expected increase in the number of voters casting absentee ballots in November. Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth is hosting an on-line training Tuesday night for those interested in learning how to help others register to vote or cast an absentee ballot.
"We usually send out about 8,000 or 9,000 absentee ballots. That's what we sent out in 2016 and right now, we're already at the point where we have 4,261 people who have requested to vote absentee."
Hollingsworth says the current number is a 175% increase over the same period in 2016. Earlier this year, Gov. Asa Hutchinson relaxed the restrictions on absentee voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Voters are no longer required to provide a reason or excuse for requesting to mail in their ballots.
The increased interest in absentee voters has not been budgeted for, Hollingsworth says. She hopes those intending to vote absentee in November will request a ballot well before the October 27 deadline so officials can plan for the increase in resources.
At a similar voter training last week, Hollingsworth said a common question was whether a voter can request an absentee ballot, but then vote in-person at the polls. In those situations, she says the voter would have to vote using a provisional ballot at the polls. Records would then be checked to make sure only one ballot has been cast by the voter.