Early voting numbers increase in Crawford, Sebastian counties

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 299 views 

Crawford and Sebastian County voters got out in large numbers to vote during the first week of early voting in Arkansas. The early vote counts are easily on pace to top the early voting tally in the 2016 November presidential election.

Early voting began Oct. 19 and will continue through 5 p.m. Nov. 2. Voting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (except Nov. 2) and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

In Sebastian County, 19,428 early voting ballots had been recorded through Saturday (Oct. 24), said  Meghan Hassler, Sebastian County Election Coordinator. The total number of early voters in the 2016 general election was 29,182.

“In 2018, which wasn’t a presidential election, there were 17,629 early voting. We almost had that many the first week this year,” Hassler said.

She noted that 2016 there were only three early voting sites. Voters in Sebastian County can vote at any of the six voting centers for early voting or 31 voting centers on Election Day. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3.

In 2016, there were 73,783 registered voters in Sebastian County for the general election. Of those, 44,929 or 60.89% voted in the general election. There were 71,066 registered voters in the county for the 2018 general elections. The Sebastian County Clerk’s office reported 72,882 registered voters in Sebastian County Oct. 8.

The Crawford County Clerk’s office reported 8,441 had early voted through Saturday. In 2016, there was a total of 11,093 ballots cast during early voting. Another 11,172 voted on the day of the general election for a total of 22,567 or 68% of the 33,275 registered voters that year. This year, there are around 35,200 registered to vote in Crawford County.

Crawford County did have a few problems with early voting early last week. Some voters in the county were given the wrong ballot after a programming issue. The issue wasn’t brought to the attention of the Crawford County Election Commission until the third day of early voting, Oct. 21.

The Crawford County Election Commission said there was a programming issue in the ballots for three precincts in the northern part of the county. They say 87 Cedarville voters didn’t get the opportunity to vote for the de-annexation and 34 incorrect ballots were given out for state house, congress and a justice of the peace races before the problem was discovered. Crawford County Election Commission Chairman Bill Coleman said there were six people who were not issued a ballot to be able to vote for the House District 80 race, the Congressional District 3 race and a Justice of the Peace race.

“There were also 28 ballots that were issued for folks in other precincts that they did have the opportunity to but whether they did or not but they may have voted in those races,” he said.

Coleman said the programming issue was in the routing of the ballots because of the way the precincts are listed. The ballots that were cast before the problem was correct have been secured. If there is a closely contested race, the commission will look at those ballots and make decisions on what needs to be done.

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