It might be a surprise to you that run-off elections are still taking place during this time of pandemic. However, you might also take comfort in safety measures that state and local officials have made. This includes the ability for any eligible voter to use absentee voting.
Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston reminds voters that early voting begins Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 in the General Primary Runoff Election. There are about 1,200 eligible voters in Saline County in this election, according to Allison Cain, County Election Coordinator. The runoff is for School Board Position 5 in Glen Rose, which is mostly in Hot Spring County. The candidates are Audrey Spence-Raper and Michael Wingfield.
- Early Voting in Saline County will be at the Benton Vote Center, 221 N. Main Street in Benton. Times are 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Tue, Mar 24 through Fri, Mar 27, and Mon, Mar 30.
- On Election Day, voting is from 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Tue, Mar 31.
- To cast an Absentee Ballot, click this link and print the Absentee Ballot Application. The deadline is March 24, 2020 to return application by fax, email or mail. Call The County Clerk’s office at (501) 303-5630 with any questions.
- View Sample Ballots by going to www.voterview.org.
A statement by Thurston by addressed the safety measures that officials are taking. It states that Governor Asa Hutchinson issued Executive Order 20-08, which suspends three provisions of law, concerning elections, for the upcoming General Primary Election due to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. They are explained below.
- The first suspends the law regarding emergency polling site changes. Counties will be permitted to consolidate to as few as one polling site for in-person voting on Election Day. This decision may be made up to three days prior to the election, so long as a notice is posted at polling sites that would have otherwise been used, absent the emergency.
- The second suspends the law requiring qualified electors who wish to vote absentee to be unavoidably absent or unable to attend an election due to illness or physical disability. All qualified electors currently entitled to vote in the General Primary Runoff Election will be permitted to request an absentee ballot from their county of residence.
- The third suspends the provision of law which requires absentee ballot applications sent by mail, fax, or email to arrive by March 24th. Absentee voters submitting their application by mail, fax, or email in the seven days prior to Election Day will receive an absentee ballot.
Please note that the deadline to return voted absentee ballots by mail will still remain 7:30 pm on March 31, 2020. Voters can download an absentee ballot application from the Secretary of State website at: www.sos.arkansas.
Per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Arkansas Department of Health, voters should continue to observe appropriate social distancing measures when going to vote, and maintain a six-foot distance from others, if possible. County officials and poll workers are receiving guidance on additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone.