50% of voters in Arkansas cast early ballot

Figure up from 42% in ’14, but turnout percentage fell

In this Oct. 23 photo, people wait in line during early voting at the Main Branch of the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock.
In this Oct. 23 photo, people wait in line during early voting at the Main Branch of the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock.

Despite a surge in early voting numbers, turnout in November's general election actually fell slightly as a percentage of overall voters in Arkansas compared with four years ago, according to final numbers certified by Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Friday.

Chris Powell, a spokesman for Martin's office, said that vote tallies posted on the secretary of state's website are now certified as the final and official count for the midterm election, after Newton County was the last county to notify the office that it had certified its results on Friday.

According to the final count, 898,793 Arkansans voted in the election, up from the 852,642 ballots cast in the 2014 midterm.

However, turnout as a percentage of registered voters was 50.38 percent in 2018, down just a bit from the 50.43 percent turnout in 2014.

Elections officials measure turnout in midterm elections -- held every four years -- against each other because fewer people typically vote in those races as compared with races held in presidential election years. Powell said the difference is usually about 15 percentage points, with about 65 percent of voters going to the polls in presidential years.

"That held true" in 2018, Powell said.

In some Arkansas counties, officials predicted a higher-than-normal turnout in the midterms due to increases in the number of early voters. Early voting began Oct. 22, about two weeks ahead of Election Day, which was Nov. 6. All the U.S. House elections were contested, as were those for the state's seven constitutional offices. Voters also decided an Arkansas Supreme Court runoff.

The numbers showed that while more people chose to vote early, that did not result in a higher overall turnout of voters. About 50 percent of the 2018 ballots were cast during early voting, Powell said, compared with about 42 percent in 2014.

"What was interesting is that early voting, as a percentage, was up this year," Powell said. "People prefer the convenience."

Nationally, turnout for the midterms is on track to be a 52-year high, according to reporting by National Public Radio and the United States Election Project. Voters across the country swept Democrats into the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republicans expanded their majority in the U.S. Senate by winning seats in several conservative-leaning states.

In Arkansas, there was little noticeable change as Republicans held their grip on all statewide and congressional offices, and also kept the majority of seats in both houses of the state Legislature.

According to the official certified results, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson won re-election to a second and final four-year term with 65.33 percent, or 582,406 votes, compared with Democrat Jared Henderson, who got 283,218 votes, or 31.77 percent. The gubernatorial race attracted the most votes, 891,509, of any race in the state this year.

Several counties saw higher-than-state-average turnout, including Van Buren and Pike counties, where turnout topped 60 percent. In Pulaski County, the state's largest, turnout was 54.63 percent.

The state's lowest recorded turnout was in Crittenden County, where just 40.92 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

[2018 ELECTION: Full Democrat-Gazette coverage of Arkansas races]

Here are the vote totals for statewide and congressional races. An asterisk denotes an incumbent; D stands for Democrat, R for Republican and L for Libertarian. All vote totals are available at: sos.arkansas.gov/elections

U.S. House

District 1

• U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford* (R) 138,757 (68.95%)

• Chintan Desai (D) 57,907 (28.77%)

• Elvis Presley (L) 4,581 (2.28%)

District 2

• U.S. Rep. French Hill* (R) 132,125 (52.13%)

• State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) 116,135 (45.82)

• Joe Ryne Swafford (L) 5,193 (2.05)

District 3

• U.S. Rep. Steve Womack* (R) 148,717 (64.74%)

• Josh Mahony (D) 74,952 (32.63%)

• Michael J. Kalagias (L) 5,899 (2.57%)

District 4

• U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman* (R) 136,740 (66.74%)

• Hayden Catherine Shamel 63,984 (31.23%)

• Tom Canada (L) 3,952 (1.93%)

Constitutional offices


• Gov. Asa Hutchinson* (R) 582,406 (65.33%)

• Jared K. Henderson (D) 283,218 (31.77%)

• Mark West (L) 25,885 (2.9%)

Attorney General

• Attorney General Leslie Rutledge* (R) 549,668 (61.8%)

• Mike Lee (D) 315,099 (35.43%)

• Kerry Hicks (L) 24,652 (2.77%)

Auditor of State

• Auditor Andrea Lea* (R) 621,772 (72.35%)

• David E. Dinwiddie (L) 237,602 (27.65%)

Land Commissioner

• Tommy Land (R) 530,230 (60.05%)

• Larry Williams (D) 323,682 (36.66%)

• T.J. Campbell (L) 29,123 (3.3%)

Lieutenant Governor

• Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin* (R) 570,433 (64.18%)

• Anthony Bland (D) 293,535 (33.03%)

• Frank Gilbert (L) 24,767 (2.79%)

Secretary of State

• John Thurston (R) 537,581 (60.64%)

• Susan Inman (D) 323,644 (36.51%)

• Christopher Olson (L) 25,320 (2.86%)


• Treasurer Dennis Milligan* (R) 611,189 (70.89%)

• Ashley Ewald (L) 250,943 (29.11%)

Arkansas Supreme Court

Position 3 runoff


• Justice Courtney Goodson* 463,677 (55.66%)

• David Sterling 369,306 (44.34%)


Issue 2

Voter ID

• For 692,622 (79.47%)

• Against 178,936 (20.53%)

Issue 4

Casino licenses

• For 470,954 (54.1%)

• Against 399,530 (45.9%)

Issue 5

Minimum wage

• For 605,784 (68.46%)

• Against 279,046 (31.54%)

Metro on 12/01/2018

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