Arkansas Elections

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Fresh off a campaign stop in Little Rock, Marco Rubio has secured the support of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. The Republican governor made his endorsement on Monday with little fanfare following Rubio’s 2,000 strong rally on Sunday evening.

Marco Rubio
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With just over a week before Election Day in Arkansas, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio campaigned in Little Rock Sunday, warning that an extended fight for the GOP nomination could cost the party the election.

Rock Region Metro transit buses CAT central arkansas transit
David Monteith / KUAR News

Rock Region METRO, formerly known as Central Arkansas Transit, is asking voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase which would generate a projected $18 million, all earmarked for public transit. According to Executive Director Jarod Varner, the additional revenue would allow the organization to be more responsive to current passenger needs and attract new riders.

“Our system is anchored in a funding structure that was developed in 1986 and so it's very difficult to make major service changes. We want to modernize what we do,” said Varner               

Bruce Westerman
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, says the Fourth Congressional District could benefit greatly from increased trade with Taiwan. He also says he may walk into the voting booth for the primary election with his mind not made up on a Presidential pick.

Westerman, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, said Taiwan is Arkansas’ 6th largest trading partner, but agriculture and timber opportunities could boost trade.

Former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is campaigning in Little Rock Sunday, one day after his second place finish in South Carolina's primary. Pundits predict Bush's exit from the race, following a 4th place showing, could help establishment-friendly Rubio or John Kasich. But it likely won't alter the Arkansas political dynamic heading into the March 1 primary.

A Washington-based group has expanded its campaign against Arkansas chief justice hopeful Courtney Goodson, spending more than half a million dollars on television ads and also sending out mailers targeting the sitting justice.

Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, which track judicial election spending, said Thursday that the Judicial Crisis Network has spent more than $532,000 on its spots criticizing Goodson over gifts and contributions she's received.

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson and Circuit Judge Dan Kemp each report raising more than $100,000 last month in their heated race for Arkansas Supreme Court chief justice.

Kemp on Tuesday reported raising slightly more than Goodson in January, with $111,490 in contributions to Goodson's reported $107,300. Goodson also reported loaning her campaign $80,000 in January.

Goodson outspent Kemp, with $144,273 in expenditures, and ended the month with $74,121 cash on hand. Kemp spent $13,771 and has $256,956 in the bank.

Election early vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

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.

As Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders claimed victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday, Arkansans now have a renewed sense of the top candidates as the state eyes its own primary 3 weeks away. 

Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Mic Smith/AP/

Three weeks before Arkansas holds its presidential primary election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened its state headquarters in Little Rock Monday. Located at 323 Center Street, officials say it will serve as a place to organize state campaign activities.

Despite having spent decades in Arkansas until the election of her husband Bill Clinton as president in 1992, the state isn't being looked at as an easy win, says Grant Tennille, former director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, who is a Clinton supporter.

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told thousands in Arkansas Wednesday night that the Clintons have abandoned their home state. Trump also further laid out claims Texas Senator Ted Cruz stole the Iowa caucus. 

“Give it up, for your next president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump! Yes! Yes! Yes!," shouted Trump's opening hype man Jonathan Conneely, the founder of a fitness regime for first responders who calls himself Coach JC.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Monday marks the deadline for Arkansas voters to register to vote in this year's primary election.

Secretary of State Mark Martin says voters can register at county clerks' offices or public assistance offices or print a form online and mail it in.

Early voting begins Feb. 16 for the March 1 primary election, which includes both presidential, state and judicial races. Lawmakers last year approved moving the election up to March 1 so voters can participate in a regional nominating contest known as the "SEC primary."

A nonprofit backed by two former Arkansas Supreme Court justices is urging judicial candidates to disavow "false" communications on their behalf by outside groups in their races.

The Arkansas Judicial Campaign Conduct and Education Committee on Thursday said it was encouraging candidates to sign the pledge before the March 1 judicial elections. The committee's board of directors includes former Justices Annabelle Imber Tuck and Robert L. Brown.

Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Dianne Curry at KUAR in advance of the filing deadline for the primary election.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The only announced Democratic candidate for the U.S. House seat in central Arkansas called for an increase in federal education spending, moving from a minimum wage to a so-called living wage, and embraced President Obama in an interview with KUAR.

A northwest Arkansas city is getting a second shot at banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as voters weigh whether to challenge a new state law aimed at banning such local protections.

petition signatures signature gathering

An Arkansas law moving up the deadline for independent candidates to present their petition signatures is constitutional because the state has a compelling interest in the earlier date, a district judge ruled Tuesday.

District Judge James Moody ruled that the law is needed to give the state time to process signatures, respond to litigation, and comply with federal law. He granted a summary judgment to the defendant, Mark Martin, Arkansas’ secretary of state. The case is Mark Moore, Michael Harrod, and William Chris Johnson v. Mark Martin.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas voters next year will decide on proposals regarding the governor's power; tax breaks for corporations; and longer terms for elected county officials after the House and Senate advanced a trio of proposed state constitutional amendments.

The Senate voted 33-0 Thursday for a plan to increase the terms of most county offices to four years, relax restrictions on what crimes prevent people from holding office and remove unopposed candidates from ballots.

Unofficial results from the Arkansas Secretary of State show a runoff will be needed to choose the lawmaker who will replace former Senate President Michael Lamoureux.

Greg Standridge and Stan Berry were the two highest vote-getters in Tuesday's primary. The Russellville Courier reports they will compete Feb. 10 for the District 16 seat because no candidate received a majority.

According to the state agency's website, Standridge received about 47.8 percent of the total 4,438 votes. Berry received about 41 percent of the vote, and Thomas Akin received about 11 percent.

The authors of two, identical rejected petitions over a water project have filed a Garland County lawsuit to force the initiative onto the November ballot.

The Sentinel-Record reports Greg Pritchett and Bob Driggers filed the suit against Hot Springs' city clerk and the Garland County Election Commission on Monday.

The identical petitions sought to have an ordinance placed on the ballot to direct Hot Springs officials to stop taking water from DeGray Lake and build a new water treatment plant.

Voters in a western Arkansas city have decided to renew a 1 percent sales tax for capital improvements expected to cost more than $12 million.

The Southwest Times Record reports Alma voters on Tuesday approved seven separate projects paid for by the tax. Those projects include fire and police department upgrades and improvements to streets and parks.

The renewal will keep the city's sales tax rate at 9.5 percent and is estimated to sunset in 2024. About 450 of Alma's nearly 2,200 registered voters cast ballots. Each of the projects passed with more than 250 votes.

An Arkansas city's failure to advertise an ordinance twice in a newspaper has given another opportunity for residents to run for office as independent candidates.

The Daily Citizen reports Bald Knob had an early filing ordinance for residents who want to run as independents. They could only sign up from April 30 to May 19.

Mayor Doyle Wallace says the ordinance was voided after the city advertised it once, not twice as required.

Barth Grayson says he's pleased about the voided ordinance. He says he plans to file as a candidate for Bald Knob mayor.

Steve Copley Minimum Wage Give Arkansas A Raise Now

Arkansas election officials say a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage needs at least 15,107 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Wednesday released the number of signatures the petitions needed for Give Arkansas a Raise Now to win a spot on the ballot.

Martin's office on Friday told the group it needed more signatures, but did not yet have an exact figure.

The group has been given until Aug. 18 to submit additional petitions.

Arkansas election officials say the state has delayed the deadline for submitting the petitions to the following workday for nearly 90 years, as they review a group claiming the state used the wrong deadline for an expanded alcohol sales measure.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Tuesday said officials were still researching the complaint from the group challenging the petitions that were submitted in favor of legalizing alcohol sales in all 75 counties.

A group opposed to a proposal expanding alcohol sales in Arkansas is asking the secretary of state to not certify the measure for the November ballot, claiming it missed a deadline to submit petitions.

An attorney for a group called Let Local Communities Decide For Themselves asked Secretary of State Mark Martin's office to not accept any more petitions for the proposal, which would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties. Thirty-seven counties currently prohibit alcohol sales.

Supporters of a proposal to expand alcohol sales in Arkansas are being given 30 more days to gather signatures after falling short in their effort to win a spot on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office said Friday that the group behind the proposed constitutional amendment needs an additional 17,133 signatures from registered voters to be approved for the ballot.

Proposed constitutional amendments need at least 78,133 signatures to go before voters.

A proposal to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage is one step closer to appearing on the November ballot after petitions for the measure passed an initial signature count.

Secretary of State Mark Martin said Wednesday an initial count found that 64,000 signatures were submitted for the proposed initiated act backed by Give Arkansas a Raise Now. The group needs 62,507 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

Too few voting machines and untimely breakdowns led to long lines at two Garland County polling locations, and some voters walked away without casting ballots.

Garland County Election Commission chairwoman Ginna Watson says one Hot Springs polling site on Central Avenue had a printer problem Tuesday that slowed the pace of voting.

Watson told The Sentinel-Record there were machine issues at most precincts. One polling site on Malvern Avenue had only one voting machine all day.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas judge has again found the state's new voter ID law to be unconstitutional, but a photo identification will still be needed for this month's primary election.

Judge Tim Fox held a hearing Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court concerning a second challenge to law, this one from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Law Center. 

election voter ID vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' highest court has temporarily stayed a judge's ruling striking down the state's voter ID law and given both sides until Friday to make their case about whether the restriction should remain in place.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the state's request to stay Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox's decision voiding the new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Fox ruled the restriction violated Arkansas' constitution. Fox issued the ruling in a case that had focused on absentee ballot rules.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Pulaski County Election Commission and a group of four voters are asking Arkansas' highest court to prevent the state from enforcing a voter ID law in an upcoming election after it was struck down by a judge.

The commission on Tuesday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to deny the state's request to stay Judge Tim Fox's ruling, which voided the new law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.