Will You Be Heard on Election Day?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Early voting is currently underway for the upcoming general election, and according to election officials the turnout has been brisk. Clay County Clerk Sharon Williams reports that a total of 171 votes were cast at the Eastern District courthouse in Piggott the first two days of the early voting period. There were also over 110 absentee ballots requested that must be turned in prior to the election.

"Voting for our elected leaders is not a privilege; it's a right guaranteed us by the United States Constitution. And yet, nearly half of the state's registered voters don't exercise their right to be heard at the ballot box," noted Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels, "fortunately, voting is a simple process, made even more convenient with absentee and early voting options." Daniels offered these reminders.

ABSENTEE VOTING

If you know you will be unavoidably absent from the polls on Nov. 4, you can still vote by requesting an absentee ballot from your county clerk. The clerk must receive your mailed absentee ballot request application by next Tuesday, Oct. 28, and you must mail the completed ballot back to your clerk by Election Day.

Overseas citizens and military personnel may simultaneously register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot using a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA SF-76). Some counties are opting to use a new service by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) which allows for overseas and military voters to submit their application and ballot request form to their county clerks via a secure server. I am hopeful that this new service will be helpful to the voters and to our clerks working to meet statutory deadlines. Military personnel and overseas citizens may get more information on this initiative on FVAP's website at www.fvap.gov.

EARLY VOTING

There are really 14 election days when counting early vote days. I encourage all voters to beat the Nov. 4 crowds and vote early. The period started this past Monday, Oct. 20, and continues through Monday, Nov. 3, statewide between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and ending at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the election. Each county will provide at least one early voting location (usually the county courthouse) and some will offer additional satellite locations.

AT THE POLLS VOTING

Your final opportunity to vote is Tuesday, Nov. 4, and the polls will be open statewide from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. First-time voters can find out where they will be voting at www.VoteNaturally.org or by calling the Secretary of State's Election Division at (800) 482-1127.

Additionally, I urge all Arkansans who are already registered voters to ensure that their voter information is up-to-date. The best and easiest way to do that is by logging on to www.VoteNaturally.org and typing in your name and date of birth. This application will let you know if your information is current. If your search yields no records or inaccurate records, please contact your county clerk immediately to get the information corrected.

Vote early, and be heard in this historic election!

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