Arkansas Elections

Pulaski Circuit County Clerk

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. The holiday, which occurs the fourth Tuesday of every September, is designed to encourage an increase in voter participation, but efforts to get people registered have been happening for weeks in Arkansas. Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth says there are already 12,000 more registered voters than at this time four years ago. She credits new collaborations for the increase.

Pulaski Circuit County Clerk

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."

Ariel Martini / Flickr.com

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment expanding casino gaming submitted 97,000 signatures to the Arkansas secretary of state’s office Monday, the deadline to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

The group was required to collect 89,151 verified signatures of registered voters. By crossing that threshold, the effort will qualify for a 30-day cure period giving it time to collect additional signatures if needed. The secretary of state will validate that the signatures come from eligible registered voters.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he hopes to make a decision by August 1 regarding allowing voters in Arkansas more flexibility to vote absentee this November. He made the comment at his daily press conference June 24 in response to a reporter’s question about a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County seeking no-excuse absentee voting.

He said has been communicating with the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners, Secretary of State John Thurston, and county officials.

Stock Photo

A judge has ruled that a group seeking to create a voter-approved commission to redraw Arkansas’ legislative and congressional lines after each census doesn’t have to collect signatures in person but also can’t use electronic signatures and must abide by the state’s July 3 deadline.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III issued a preliminary injunction May 25 barring the enforcement of a state law requiring signatures to be witnessed in person and also said canvassers don’t have to sign an affidavit with a notary present.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A proposal has been filed in Arkansas that would create a new nine-member independent commission to redraw the state's congressional and legislative districts.

Arkansas Voters First on Thursday filed the proposed amendment to the state's constitution that the group hopes to get on the ballot this fall. The group must submit nearly 90,000 signatures from registered voters by July 3 to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Arkansas' legislative districts are redrawn by a panel comprised of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

A lawsuit challenging the ballot referendum process has been dismissed by a Pulaski County judge. On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen dismissed the suit against the Arkansas Secretary of State and Safe Surgery Arkansas, a group supported by the state’s ophthalmologists.

Arkansas political observers may be cross-eyed by the time all of the legal machinations between optometrists and ophthalmologists are settled.

On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing of a ruling that allowed Safe Surgery Arkansas to proceed with its efforts to gain ballot access for its proposal to reverse Act 579. That law was passed in the 2019 regular session and expanded optometrists’ scopes of practice, allowing them to perform certain eye procedures that have traditionally been limited to ophthalmologists.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Secretary of State John Thurston’s office must count signatures collected by a group wanting to repeal a state law regarding optometrists’ scope of practice.

Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

An Arkansas state legislator announced a bid Tuesday to unseat a Republican congressman in 2020 as the filing period for next year's election came to a close.

Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott is the only Democrat who filed to run against Republican Rep. French Hill, who was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District in 2014.

Elliott said she believes the district, which includes Little Rock, could be competitive for Democrats.

Safe Surgery Arkansas is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to appoint a special master to review its signature collections and it is challenging the legality of a new law that was used by the Secretary of State to reject counting its petitions.

Voting Election Day Vote
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Tuesday marks the 54th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Monday night members of Arkansas Community Organizations are holding a rally and candlelight vigil to voice their support for strengthening the act, which was intended to eliminate racial discrimination from the election process.

Early voting in Arkansas starts Monday, October 22nd.
Creative Commons

Early voting begins Tuesday for a special primary election to fill the empty seat in State House District 36. Five democratic candidates are vying to fill the spot left when former representative and House Minority Leader Charles Blake resigned to take a new role as Chief of Staff for Little Rock under Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.

Evelyn Gomez, chair of the Pulaski County Election Commission, says preparations for the special primary election have been underway since the announcement.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal lawsuit alleges the voting system for some Arkansas judges violates black residents' rights by diluting the strength of the vote.

Lawyers for the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the lawsuit Tuesday. It says that because the state's seven Supreme Court judges are elected statewide instead of by district, the white voting bloc overpowers the votes of black Arkansas residents.

Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

County officials across Arkansas have sent out notices to remind state residents who did not vote in the past election to update their ballot information.

The decision complies with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which permits people to register to vote while acquiring driver's licenses.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voters are casting ballots in an election that could result in Little Rock's first popularly elected black mayor,  six decades after Arkansas' capital city was the center of a school desegregation fight.

Frank Scott and Baker Kurrus are in Tuesday's runoff for the nonpartisan, open seat.

If Scott wins, he would be the first African American elected mayor of Little Rock, where divisions linger long after nine black students were escorted past an angry white mob into Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Election Voters Voting
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Polls in Arkansas closed at 7:30 p.m. for Tuesday’s midterm election. Voting locations around the state were busy.

At one polling location in Little Rock's Capitol View-Stifft’s Station neighborhood, voter Barbara Stafan called this an important election for her because of what she called "the incivility of our country."

Pat Watson, another voter, called this election critical.

election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voter turnout in this midterm election is expected to be higher than in recent years, both nationally and in Arkansas. Chris Powell, spokesman for the Arkansas Secretary of State, said predictions of high turnout are holding true in some parts of the state.

"Some counties are reporting pretty high turnout," Powell said. "Saline County reported that they're already at 31 percent turnout, and Craighead County's got 22 percent. It's going to vary across the state. I think the statewide numbers [for early voting will be about] 23.5 percent of total registered voters."

Susan Inman is the democrat candidate that was left off Garland County's early voting ballot Monday morning.
Image via Susan Inman for Secretary of State's Facebook Page

Garland County election officials say they have corrected a mistake that led to the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State not being listed on the ballot. Three early voting locations in the county were were closed for a breif time Monday, which was the first day of early voting.

222 ballots had been submitted without Susan Inman’s name on it, according to Gene Haley, chairman of the Garland County Election Commission. He said the ommission was noticed at 8:15 a.m. 

A Guide To The 2018 Little Rock Mayoral Race

Oct 19, 2018
The first mayoral forum on economic opportunity.
Michael Hibblen/KUAR News

The information in this guide is taken directly from the candidate’s answers to the moderator’s questions in five forums presented by The Central Arkansas Library System, The League of Women Voters of Pulaski County, American Association of University Women of Little Rock and KUAR 89.1 - UA Little Rock Public Radio.

October 22 is the start of early voting in Arkansas, and November 6 is when the residents of Little Rock will have a chance to elect a new mayor for the first time in 12 years.

Early voting in Arkansas starts Monday, October 22nd.
Creative Commons

The Pulaski County Election Comission anticpates a higher voter turnout this midterm election compared to 2014. Director of Elections for the Pulaski County Election Comission, Bryan Poe, says in 2014 about 57,000 people turned out for early voting in the midterms, which was  52.6 percent of registered voters in Pulaski County. That's higher than the national average of 40 percent who turn out to vote for a midterm election.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voters will not get to weigh in on a proposed amendment to limit lawsuit damages but will vote on raising the state’s minimum wage after the Arkansas Supreme Court released two decisions Thursday.

The decisions came a week after the court ruled in favor of keeping on the ballot Issue 4, which will allow voters to decide on the fate of casinos in four locations. Still to come is a decision on an amendment that would limit legislative terms.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock mayoral candidates Vincent Tollver, Frank Scott Jr., Baker Kurrus, Warwick Sabin and Glen Schwarz met Monday evening, October 15 at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock for a forum covering general topics.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas voters will be able to consider a casino amendment during next month's election, the state highest court ruled Thursday. The Arkansas Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the constitutionality of a voter ID law passed by the Legislature last year.

In one casino case brought by Ensuring Arkansas’ Future, the petitioners raised 27 challenges to Issue 4, which would allow casino operations at Oaklawn and Southland and also at sites in Pope County and Jefferson County.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock mayoral candidates Warwick Sabin, Glen Schwarz, Frank Scott Jr., Vincent Tolliver and Baker Kurrus met Monday evening, October 10, 2018 at Roosevelt Thompson Library in Little Rock for a forum with questions focused on education.

This is the fourth in a series of five forums with candidates for Little Rock Mayor on topics including economic opportunity, crime, infrastructure and education.

Daniel Breen / KUAR

Little Rock mayoral candidates Warwick Sabin, Glen Schwarz, Frank Scott Jr., Vincent Tolliver and Baker Kurrus met Monday evening, September 24 at Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library in Little Rock for a forum with questions focused on infrastructure. 

This is the third in a series of five forums with candidates for Little Rock Mayor on topics including economic opportunity, crime, infrastructure and education.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock mayoral candidates Warwick Sabin, Glen Schwarz, Frank Scott Jr., Vincent Tolliver and Baker Kurrus met Monday evening, September 10 at Dee Brown Library in Little Rock for a forum with questions focused on economic opportunity.

This is the first in a series of five forums with candidates for Little Rock Mayor on topics including economic opportunity, crime, infrastructure and education.

Activists on both sides of tort reform say they’ll proceed with their voter education campaigns despite a judge’s ruling stated that so-called Issue One is not qualified for the November ballot in Arkansas.

At a Northeast Arkansas Political Animals forum held at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce on Friday, speakers debated the merits of caps limiting medical malpractice awards and said the conversation will continue, despite Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce’s ruling on Sept. 6 that the proposed amendment does not meet a “single-subject test.” 

That ruling is being challenged by Arkansans for Jobs and Justice.

Salfalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

An Arkansas judge has disqualified a ballot measure that would limit the damages awarded in civil lawsuits and would give the state Legislature control over court rules.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce on Thursday ruled that the proposal lawmakers put on the November ballot violates the state's constitution by combining disparate measures into one amendment. The proposed amendment caps noneconomic and punitive damages awarded in lawsuits and also places limits on attorneys' contingency fees.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A proposal to legalize casinos in Arkansas has been approved for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Wednesday said supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment submitted more than the nearly 85,000 signatures from registered voters required to put the proposal on the ballot. Martin's office said it had determined 99,988 valid signatures were submitted.

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