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Northwest Arkansas, River Valley election officials say early voting is steady, smooth

by Tom Sissom | May 22, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
People file into the Benton County Administration building on Saturday May 21 2022 for early voting. Go to to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Election officials said the pace remained steady in the second week of early voting for the May 24 primary election.

"We haven't hit 300 voters in a single location on any day so far," Kim Dennison, Benton County election coordinator, said Friday. "We've had no problems. It's gone really well. It's just crazy how quiet it's been."

Information from the Benton County Clerk's Office shows 13,811 people voted during the first 11 days of early voting in this year's primary. In 2018, the most recent comparable election, county records show 5,994 people voted during the first 11 days. The number of registered voters has increased from about 153,000 in 2018 to about 175,000 this year, Dennison said.

"Our numbers have been back and forth this week, but we've already cast more ballots than we did in 2018," Jennifer Price, executive director for the Washington County Election Commission, said Friday.

Price said early voting in primary elections in Washington County have typically seen a lower turnout than early voting for general elections.

"For the primary election, early voting is not necessarily more than the Election Day turnout," Price said. "For the general election, early voting is usually more than Election Day turnout."

Records from Washington County show a total turnout for the first 11 days of 9,584. That compares with 4,390 for the first 11 days in 2018. There are currently about 138,000 registered voters in Washington County, up from 128,000 in 2018.

There was no waiting line for voters at the Washington County Courthouse on Friday morning.

Mickey Jackson of Springdale said he took advantage of the early voting period because he will be working Tuesday and didn't want to be rushed or miss the opportunity to vote. Jackson said he has voted on Election Day and in early voting in the past and prefers the early voting.

"I got in and out with no problems and no lines," he said.

Chris Guinn of Springdale said he always votes during the early voting period.

"It's just easier with no waiting," Guinn said.

Early voting in Sebastian County was slightly behind the pace of 2018, according to Meghan Hassler, election coordinator.

Sebastian County records show 5,380 votes cast in the first 10 days of early voting this year. That compares to 5,391 in the same 10 days of 2018. Hassler said the number of registered voters in Sebastian County has remained steady at about 70,000.

Hassler said early voting typically begins with a high number on the first day then slows through the next several days of early voting. She said the last Friday of early voting and the Monday before Election Day usually see a higher voter turnout.

Bill Coleman, Crawford County Election Commission chairman, said early voting in the county was going well, but said the pace of voting was slower than he had anticipated.

"I was anticipating a little more," he said, noting the Monday before an election can be the busiest day of early voting. "I've seen lines on the Monday before an election."

Coleman said there were about 3,000 votes cast in the first 10 days of early voting this year, slightly less than 10% of the county's registered voters. He said he didn't have any daily records for the 2018 early voting. Coleman said Crawford County has about 35,000 registered voters.

  photo  Dana Caler with the Benton County Clerk's office helps voters cast ballots on Saturday May 22 2022 at the county administration building. Go to to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

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Early voting

Early voting for the May 24 party primary election began May 9 and will continue until Monday. Registered voters can cast their ballots at any vote center in the county they are registered in. Voters must present an accepted form of identification. Documents and identification cards that will be accepted as verification of voter registration include but are not limited to:

• An Arkansas driver’s license

• An Arkansas photo identification card

• A concealed handgun carry license

• A United States passport

• An employee badge or identification document issued by an accredited postsecondary education institution in the state of Arkansas

• A United States military identification document

• A public assistance identification card, if the card shows a photograph of the person to whom the document or identification card was issued

• A voter verification card with photo as provided by the County Clerk

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State


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