Voters form a line to cast ballots in the early voting at the Jefferson County Courthouse on the first day of voting Monday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
The first day of early voting for the Nov. 6 general election saw nearly 800 residents making their way to the Jefferson County Courthouse to cast their ballots by Monday afternoon.
Alneata Henderson, deputy clerk for voter registration in the county clerk’s office, said that as of 4:05 p.m., 762 voters had cast ballots.
“As of 3 p.m., we had 660, so that’s 102 in the past hour,” Henderson said.
Many candidates for various offices and their supporters were stationed on both sides of Barraque Street in front of the courthouse holding campaign signs.
Voters began turning out early Monday.
“We have had almost 500 voters come through as of 1 p.m. today,” Jefferson County Election Coordinator Will Fox said Monday afternoon. “If this keeps up we will have had a significant percentage of registered voters casting their votes before election day. Jefferson County has a little more than 40,000 registered voters for this election which is about 10,000 less than in 2008. In the 2008 general election we had 40 percent of the total votes cast by early voters.”
Former three term state Rep. Frank Henslee and his wife waited to cast their votes during the lunch hour Monday.
“I have always been interested in politics because my family has been a part of it for many years,” Henslee said when asked why he was out to vote Monday. “There is a lot of trouble in Washington, D.C., and that makes this a very, very important election. We are here to cast our ballot as we are free to do in the United States.”
Joyce Watson of Pine Bluff said that she was voting early because she will be out of town Nov. 6.
“I won’t be here on Nov. 6 because I will be at a quilting retreat in Winslow, Ark.,” Watson said. “Early voting takes some of the pressure off of my polling site at Sulphur Springs Methodist Church. They only have three or four voting machines and it can get crowded there on election day. It’s good to see the turnout today.”
Ebone Edgerson of Pine Bluff was glad to have her voting taken care of Monday.
“I wanted to beat the crowd,” Edgerson said. “Now I won’t have to worry about it later.”
Mary Fuller of Pine Bluff said that early voting was her preferred way to cast a ballot.
“I always like to early vote,” Fuller said. “It gets it out of the way.”
Linda Sherman of Pine Bluff said that she was voting on Monday because of her eagerness to participate in the electoral process.
“I was chomping at the bit,” Sherman said laughing. “I wanted to get my vote in for the right person. I didn’t want to risk something happening that would keep me away from the polls because this is a very, very important election this year.”
Ellen McNulty of the Watson Chapel area of Pine Bluff was new to early voting.
“This is my first time to early vote,” McNulty said. “My mother is ill and I have been spending a lot of time with her so it can get hard to find the time to get out. Today is a good day.”
Early voting will continue through Nov. 5 at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office in the courthouse.
Voting hours will be from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 2. On Saturdays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, voting hours will be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 5 voting hours will be from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.