Early voting: what you need to know

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Early voting for the May primary election will start Monday morning across the state of Arkansas.  There are many heavily contested races across the state.

"It's like a ball game and you're choosing up your sides for November," said Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms.  "Who is going to play in the playoffs?"

Final preparations are being made for early voting set to start in just a few days.  Over the next two weeks, thousands are expected to cast their votes before Election Day.

"We'll vote over half of what people will vote on Election Day," said Nelms.

All have different reasons for getting a head start.

"I just like to get it done so I don't forget to go do it," said Bonnie Thrasher.

"We have women come in that are expecting a baby and their due date is right around election time and they'll come in and they'll vote," said Nelms.

Tanya Cilli is three weeks from her due date!

"I probably will be busy with a newborn so voting early would be a good thing for me," said Cilli.

"Every year before an election we always have people come in and register," said Nelms.

Nelms said more people are registered this year.  In Craighead County there are 65,978 registered voters.  With so many hot races in the state and counties voter turnout is likely to be high.  This is a primary, so Nelms encourages people to know which primary they want to be part of before they come to vote.

"You have to choose: do you want a non-partisan ballot, a republican ballot, or a democrat ballot.  We're going to ask you which party you want to participate in," said Nelms.

Nelms said early voting has been going on for about a decade and the purpose is to get more people to vote.

"I don't think that it has I think it's just caused people to vote earlier than Election Day.

You have to have an ID when you come to vote and you may have to stand in line for a little while.  There will be four voting machines and a limited number of paper ballots.

In Craighead County you can vote at the Election Annex on West Jefferson.  Residents of Lake City, Monette, Caraway and Black Oak can vote at the Lake City Courthouse or the Election Annex in Jonesboro.

Folks who live in the following counties will vote at their county courthouse for early voting:

Poinsett, Randolph, Stone, Sharp, Baxter, Crittenden, Cross, Izard, Independence, Greene, Stone, Lawrence, and Clay.  Voters in Jackson County will go to the Old Village Mall in Newport and people who live in Mississippi County will go to the Moore Center in Blytheville.

Early voting will be held Monday through Friday from eight a.m. until six p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until four p.m.

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