Most Arkansas voters will head to the polls May 24 to choose candidates in the state’s 2022 party primaries, including high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate. But what if you can’t be at the polls in person that day? Consider voting absentee. Here’s what you need to know.
What is absentee voting?
Absentee voting allows you to vote away from your polling place and before the designated election day, while complying with the state’s rules and deadlines. You will need to apply for an absentee ballot, fill out the ballot and return it to your county clerk’s office.
Who is eligible to absentee vote?
Registered voters are eligible to vote absentee. These are the excuses they may check on Arkansas’ absentee ballot request form:
“Unavoidably absent” from your polling site on election day. This reason can include worries about covid-19 transmission, according to Resolution No. 4 of 2020, by the State Board of Election Commissioners.
• Physically unable to appear due to illness or physical disability (also can be cited to include covid-19 worries).
• Resident of a licensed long-term care or residential facility.
• A member of the uniformed services or merchant marines or a spouse or dependent family member away from your assigned polling location due to the member’s active service.
• An Arkansas resident and U.S. citizen temporarily living outside U.S. territorial limitss
How do I request an absentee ballot?
Requests are required — county clerks are no longer permitted to send unsolicited absentee ballot applications, even to voters who have cast absentee ballots for years.
To request your absentee ballot, call your county clerk in the county where you are registered to vote, or go here to download the application. Print and complete it. Return it to your county clerk’s office.
What’s the deadline for my application for an absentee ballot?
If delivered by mail, your application must be received by your county clerk’s office seven days before the vote, or May 17 for the party primaries.
To return the application in person, or through another person you choose (designated bearer), the deadline is close of business the Friday before the election, or May 20. This deadline may be too late if you also plan to deliver the completed absentee ballot in person. Deadlines for both are close-of-business May 20. Check with your county clerk’s office.
Delivery through authorized agent — available only to patients of hospitals, long-term care or residential care facilities licensed by the state — carries a deadline of 1:30 p.m. on primary day, May 24.
Ballot requests from military and overseas voters must be postmarked by May 17.
How do I fill out the absentee ballot?
The ballot is part of a package that also includes a voter statement, two envelopes and a requirement for voters to provide a copy of a photo ID.
When finished filling out the ballot, the voter should place it in the smaller envelope and seal it. Place that sealed envelope in the larger “return” or “outer” envelope.
Voters are required to fill out the voter statement, which may be on colorful paper. Fill out all required sections, which include printed name, address on file for the voter’s registration and date of birth. Also required is the voter’s signature, which poll workers check. A photocopy of a photo ID must be included.
The sealed smaller envelope containing the ballot, the voter statement and the photo ID all fit in the larger outer envelope. In Pulaski County, it takes three first-class stamps to mail all the materials back to the county clerk’s office.
What’s the deadline to return the completed absentee ballot to my county clerk?
By mail, it must be received in the clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.
In person or through another person you choose, deadline is close of business the Friday before the election, or May 20.
By authorized agent (hospitals, long-term care residents only) — 7:30 p.m. on election day.
Military and overseas voters are granted more time: ballots must be completed and postmarked by election day and received by the county clerk by 5 p.m., 10 days after the election.
All absentee voting questions should go to your county clerk’s office or the Arkansas secretary of state’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.