Light turnout for first day of early voting


Turnout was described as light for the first day of early voting at the Jefferson County Courthouse for the May 20 Preferential Political Party primaries.

“It’s been in and out so far,” Senior Deputy County Clerk Katherine Woodridge said at about 2:30 p.m., adding that at that point, 219 people had signed up to vote. That total had increased to 264 by 4:45 p.m.

“It will pick up later in the week and next week because a lot of people tend to wait until the last minute,” she said.

Democratic Party voters will decide between incumbent Jefferson County Judge Dutch King and his challenger, Assistant Pine Bluff Chief of Police Ivan Whitfield for the judge’s position. No Republican filed for the position.

Also on the ballot will be the contest between current Sheriff Gerald Robinson and retired Arkansas State Trooper Roger McLemore for the sheriff’s position. Both are Democrats. James Murry has announced he will seek the office as an independent in November.

Incumbent Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson is facing Trey Ashcraft for the clerk’s position. Both are Democrats and no Republican has filed for the position.

Also countywide, Coroner Chad Kelley is being opposed by Garland Trice. Both are Democrats.

There are also several races for justice of the peace positions, and three of the four city alderman positions in Pine Bluff will be on the Democratic Party primary ballot.

Voters will also choose between current Fifth Division Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis or her challenger, Luther Sutter, for Dennis’ position and between incumbent Bill Benton and his challenger Mac North for Benton’s Third Division position. Those races are non-partisan.

Early voting will continue until May 19, with the county clerk’s office open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, May 16, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 19.

Saturday early voting will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10 and May 17.