How to cast an absentee ballot

Absentee ballots come out of a printer on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 at the Benton County Clerk's Office. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Absentee ballots come out of a printer on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 at the Benton County Clerk's Office. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Most Arkansas voters will head to the polls to vote in the March 5 preferential primary and nonpartisan general election, but if voters can’t make it to the polls they have the option of voting by absentee ballot.

To be qualified to vote by an absentee ballot, you must meet one of the following requirements:

• You will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on the day of the election.

• You will be unable to attend your polling site on election day because of illness or physical disability.

• You are a member of the uniformed services, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependant family member and are away from your polling location because of the member’s active duty status.

• You are a U.S. citizen whose residence is in Arkansas but are temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States.

Uniformed services means the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, or as defined in the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act if different from this definition.

Deadlines for absentee ballots include:

• In person: By close of business the Friday before the election.

• By designated bearer or administrator: by close of business the Friday before the election.

• By mail or by electronic means: by seven days before the election.

• By authorized agent: by 1:30 p.m. on election day.

The authorized agent must file with the county clerk an affidavit from the administrative head of a hospital or nursing home located in Arkansas verifying that the applicant is a patient of the hospital or long-term care or residential care facility licensed by the state and is thereby unable to vote on the election day at his or her regular polling site.

The deadline for ballot pickup is:

• By designated bearers: No earlier than 15 days before a preferential primary election, general election, school election or special election and no earlier than seven days before a runoff election.

• By anyone else: No deadline specified in Arkansas law. You should base your ballot pick up on the ability to return it to the county clerk on time.

The deadline for delivery of the ballot to county clerk:

• In Person: By close of business the Friday before the election.

• By designated bearer: By close of business the Friday before the election.

• By mail: Must be received at the clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

• By authorized agent: By 7:30 p.m. on election day.

Voters may not fax or email a ballot. Uniformed and overseas citizens who are absentee voting must vote by election day, and their ballot must be received by their county clerk by 5 p.m. 10 days after the election.


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