Early Voting Begins in Arkansas...Problems in Craighead County

May 3, 2004 -- Posted 6:15 CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- The 2004 election season officially begins in the Natural State.

Arkansas' primary falls on May 18th, but today across the state Arkansans got a chance to cast their votes early, except in Craighead County.

"We just didn't get our ballots ready in time," said Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms. "The Election Commission is to present me with ballots, they just didn't get done, there was different reason for delay."

But despite running a day behind schedule, Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms says this is not a setback for the voting process.

"They have ample opportunity to cast an early vote," said Nelms.

From May 4th until the 17th, the clerk's office will be open Monday through Friday from 8am until 6pm for early voting. They've chosen to stay open through lunch and an hour later to accommodate voters. They'll also be open for the next two Saturdays from 1pm until 4 pm.

And this year's voting procedure at the Craighead County Courthouse is a little different, it's now a 3 step process.

"There really shouldn't be much waiting at all," said Nelms.

And what about military personnel serving overseas?

Nelms says she doesn't know.

According to Nelms, the ballots will likely be sent off Tuesday May 4th, which gives military personnel 25 days to receive the ballots and send them back before the deadline. All absentee ballots must be counted 10 days after the May 18th primary.

"They should at least have the opportunity to vote," said Staff Sergeant Todd Kirk with 875th Engineer Battalion.

"I think it will be very hard to accomplish, but with the right leadership, the right guidance, they can do it," said Kirk.

"They should have first priority, but that doesn't always happen," said Nelms.