Election Day looms, early voting begins in Arkansas

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Early voting began across Arkansas Monday and according to Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms, turnout is expected to be about average.

Nelms told Region 8 News Monday that of the county's 6,500 registered voters; slightly less than half are expected to cast ballots this November.

"I think so because they have a lot of advertisement, and there's been a lot of talk about it and it makes a lot of people interested and everybody needs to vote," said Nelms. "They want their candidates to win and whoever gets the most out for their candidate is the one who victorious."

The purpose of early voting is to give the public ample opportunities to participate in elections. Nelms said while the purpose is sound, the process isn't working.

"It is more convenient and you would think that more people would take advantage of that. There's no reason in the world that someone should not vote," said Nelms. "When it started out, it was to get more people out and on the average, I'm sad to say that it really doesn't get more people out. It's just less people go to the polls on Election Day."

Doctor Richard Wang with Arkansas State University's Department of Political Science said the GOP is expected to make big gains in November in both houses of congress. He said the question is regarding how big those gains will be.

"Republicans took congress from the democrats. Our own Bill Clinton was in office and it altered the course of the second half of his first term," said Wang. "Some are predicting the republicans will take the house, which will be monumental. Again, it will impact the course of the Obama administration."

Wang said voter turnout for midterm elections is never as large as presidential general elections. He said he expects turnout to be larger than usual this year.

"As midterm elections go, this is a big one. You have to go back to 94 to find a comparable moment in history," said Wang.

Wang said early voting impacts both candidates and voters alike. He said the earlier the voting begins, the more money candidates have to spend on campaigns.

"They must start earlier. They must ramp up early. They can't wait. They don't wait until the last week. If they do they know they've lost a lot of voters," said Wang.

Wang said he plans to vote November 2nd. He said there's a risk for voters who vote too early.

"Things change. If I voted today, it's two weeks until Election Day. Things can change. I could vote for a city council candidate who could perhaps between now and then in two weeks disgraces herself. We learn something about this person that we didn't know," said Wang. "I want to wait. I want to wait until Election Day. Voters face a choice here. They can vote early and take that chance or vote on Election Day. I prefer not to take that chance."

Wang said while he isn't voting until November 2nd, it's important people get out and vote.

"There's not any reason that you can't be informed. A lot of people say well I don't know anything about them. That's out of their own choosing I think," said Nelms.

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