The race for who will govern the Natural State for the next four years begins this morning.
What’s happening: Early voting for the May 24 preferential primary election officially starts at 8am today and ends at 5pm on May 23.
Why it matters: About 80% of Arkansas state legislative seats will be settled by the May primary and not the general election in November, U of A political science professor Janine Parry told KUAF-FM.
- “Not to mention all the county-level offices and anything else that’s partisan — the general election will be a walk for them, so it all boils down to the [primary] election,” Parry said.
“Voting in November is like showing up on Tuesday for Monday night football,” Sen. Jim Hendren (I-Sulfur Springs) told Axios recently. “It’ll be over.”
Threat level: Primaries typically have low voter turnout. In Arkansas, only between 20% and 40% of registered voters turned out for primary elections in the past decade, so a minority of voters make choices for the majority of residents.
The intrigue: Arkansas’ open primary means voters can choose to participate in either the Democrat or Republican primary, regardless of which party they’re registered with.
- To help educate Arkansans about which primary their vote will have the most impact, independent group Common Ground AR has launched the Personal Impact Calculator.
- At a glance, voters can see which primaries dominate in their counties.
Context: Hendren founded Common Ground AR last year after he split with the Republican party over partisan issues. He’s not seeking reelection.
Things you should know: The deadline to register to vote in the primary has already passed, but there’s still plenty of time to register for the November general election.
- The deadline to request a ballot by mail is May 17. To drop it off in person, the deadline is May 20.
Stay informed: Find your polling site, check your registration status, and view sample ballots.
- State senate districts map and demographic information.
- State house districts map and demographic information.
- “A Pocket Guide to Voting in the Natural State” is published by the Secretary of State.
- Visit The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Voter Guide.