An estimated 10,000 early voting ballots were cast through Saturday at the Jefferson County Courthouse. A veteran county election official projected the number of voters casting early ballots would exceed record 2008 levels.
A White Hall couple arrived at the courthouse about 2 p.m. and was told to anticipate a wait in line of 60-90 minutes. They elected not to vote Saturday after noticing two lines down the hall past the county clerk’s office that encircled the rotunda and snaked down a hallway to the voting site.
When every space on the building’s parking lot is filled, it is obvious many voters had the same thought on their minds – vote early and avoid the long lines Tuesday.
With nine candidates in the race for mayor of Pine Bluff, presidential and congressional and state legislative elections, races for county judge and sheriff on the ballot, you could anticipate long lines on election day. At Redfield, voters were also expected to decide all six aldermanic races, an election for city recorder/treasurer and a recall vote on Mayor Tony Lawhon’s administration.
County election commission have heard complaints about the lengthy voting lines and received a request from County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson seeking four additional voting machines to beef up the seven machines then in use for early voting at the courthouse.
Changes in voting procedures come slowly. We thought for years the rules would prohibit voting on Saturdays. Our neighbors to the south in Louisiana wisely hold many elections on Saturdays.
Some changes require amendments to existing state laws. We have the time before the elections in 2014 to seek those amendments.
More than one polling site in counties with larger populations and longer hours for early voting would be helpful.
We would benefit from more voices being heard in our elections.