Early Voting Continues, Local Ballot Reviewed

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Early voting is now underway for the upcoming General Election at the Clay County courthouses in Piggott and Corning. During early voting ballots may be cast from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The office will also observe special Saturday hours, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 5. Early voting for this year's election will end at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7.

The following day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, the polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Clay County Clerk Pat Poole notes on election day ballots may only be cast at the polling place for the voter's precinct, and not at either of the clerk's offices.

Additional information on voter registration, early voting dates and other particulars may be found on the website of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin at www.sos.arkansas.gov or by calling Poole's office at 870 598-2813.

Ballot Overview

Along with a hotly-contested presidential race, there are several local and state races on the ballot. On the local scene, voters in Piggott, Corning and St. Francis will be deciding contested races for alderman, while one of the constable races is contested. Meanwhile, the remaining county candidates do not face opposition.

Statewide, voters will be choosing a candidate for president, U.S. Senator and U.S. Congressman, although none of the state's constitutional officers are standing for re-election this cycle. In Clay County the candidates for president, and their running mates, include--Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, Republicans Donald Trump and Michael Pence, Libertarians Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajuma Baraka and Constitutional Party candidates Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley.

U.S. Senator John Boozman is facing opposition from Democrat Conner Eldridge and from Libertarian Frank Gilbert.

First District U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford, a Republican, did not attract a Democratic challenger but is facing Libertarian Mark West.

Initially, six proposed constitutional amendments, and one act, were on the ballot but recent action by the Arkansas Supreme Court has prompted some changes.

Proposed constitutional changes from the legislature include giving elected county officials four-year terms, allowing the governor to retain his power when traveling outside of Arkansas, removing the constitutional cap on how much bond debt the state can issue and allowing cities and counties to provide money to private organizations for economic development. These changes are included in Issue 1, Issue 2 and Issue 3 on the ballot.

Meanwhile, citizen groups collected hundreds of thousands of voter signatures over the past year to put Issue 4, Issue 5, Issue 6 and Issue 7 on the ballot.

Of these, only one remains as any votes cast for Issues 4, 5 and 7 will not be counted due to the high court action. Among the issues stricken were measures to give legislators the authority to limit attorney compension for medical injury lawsuits and set a maximin amount on how much money people can receive for pain and suffering in medical-injury lawsuits. Also included was a measure which would have allowed the construction of three casinos in the state and one of the two medical marijuana measures.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has formulated a voter's guide for Arkansas residents, which may be found online at www.uaex.edu/ballot A limited number are also available at the Extension Offices in Piggott and Corning.

Region-wide, seeking re-election unopposed is State Rep. Joe Jett, of Success, while State Senator Blake Johnson, of Corning, has two more years on his current term.

On the local scene, in Piggott, long-time alderman Lester J. Edwards is being challenged by Travis Williams for the North Ward, Position One seat. Meanwhile, Jeff Benbrook is running for re-election unopposed for the South Ward, Position One seat. Benbrook is currently serving out the unexpired term of Mayor Jim Poole, as he was appointed to the position following Poole's election as mayor two years ago.

Corning voters will choose between F.B. Manatt, Sr. and Terry Masterson for alderman, North Ward, Position One, while the other council members are running unopposed.

Voters in St. Francis will be choosing between Kimberly Hill and Larry W. Boyer for alderman, North Ward, Position Two. The other two aldermen, Jim Smith and Judy Kay Gilbee, along with the recorder/treasurer, Bradley Decker, are unopposed.

There are no contested races in Rector, as Sheila Dale is unopposed for recorder/treasurer; Lark Sigbsy is unopposed for alderman, East Ward, Position One; David Romine is unopposed for alderman, East Ward, Position Two; Ryan S. Lawrence is unopposed for alderman, West Ward, Position One and Iva Fahr has not drawn opposition for alderman, West Ward, Position Two.

In the West Oak Bluff constable race, incumbent Fred Bucy, a Democrat, is facing Republican Terry Robertson in the General Election. Bucy got by Farren Young in the Democratic primary, and earned the spot on the ballot in next week's election.

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