Early voting for the May 22 Arkansas primary election began at the Jefferson County Courthouse at 8 a.m. Monday with a steady stream of voters arriving throughout the day.
“It has been continuous,” Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson said. “The rain probably kept a few people away this morning but it has picked up since then.”
Johnson said the County Clerk’s office mailed a new voter registration card to the last known address of all county voters notifying them of their polling site location in the wake of the legislative redistricting that occurred after the 2010 Census.
“The courthouse is the only place for early voting,” Johnson said. “Voters will go to their designated polling site for the May 22 primary. When people move within the county and give us a change of address we send them a new voter registration card individually. The mass mailing of new cards only occurs after redistricting.”
Stu Soffer, secretary of the Jefferson County Election Commission, said that things seemed to be progressing well for the most part.
“It’s going smoothly so far to the best of my knowledge and the candidates are behaving themselves,” Soffer said. “Voters need to know that they can’t bring campaign materials within 100 feet of a polling site. We had one gentleman this morning who tried to vote wearing a campaign t-shirt and we politely invited him to leave the building and change shirts before coming back.”
As of 4:30 Monday afternoon the County Clerk’s Office reported that 220 voters had cast their ballots.
Glayton Johnson cast his ballot early to stay out front.
“I voted early to get ahead of the crowd,” Johnson said. “I vote early probably 95 percent of the time.”
Mary Black was also an early voter.
“So I won’t have any problems,” Black said of her decision to vote early. “I have always voted early and I vote on the first day every time.”
Bobby Kientz was pleased with the procedure for early voting.
“I’m going to be out of town on May 22 which is why I am voting early,” Kientz said. “I have voted early before. It is very expedient. Everyone is very courteous and professional. I am impressed with the whole process.”
Rosalind Wright was also voting early because she will be out of town.
“I enjoy doing it,” Wright said of early voting.
Jackie Ferrell was voting early to get it taken care of.
“I am voting today to get it out of the way and to avoid the lines,” Ferrell said.
Deputy David Ryles of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office voted early because providing security at the courthouse means he is just steps away from the voting booth.
“I voted early because I had access,” Ryles said. “I normally do vote early.”
Ryles said the flow of voters into the courthouse had been somewhat intermittent but he expected it to pick up later in the day.
Early voting schedule
Early voting will continue Monday through Friday from 8 a.m until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. through 5 p.m. Monday, May 21.