City & County

2% of Clark County voters cast ballot on first day of early voting

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

On the first day of the two-week period of early voting, 234 voters cast an early ballot — 1.9% of Clark County’s registered voters, County Clerk Mona Vance said.

While there have been higher turnouts on the first day in past elections, Vance said she’s impressed with Monday’s tally. “It’s been higher, but for a start it is really good,” Vance said. In 2020, 713 voters participated in the opening day of early voting, and altogether 5,752 cast an early vote.

Vance is predicting an overall turnout of 73% of voters participating in the upcoming election.

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There are 12,366 registered voters in Clark County. Vance provided statistics from previous election years showing percentages of voter turnout.

In past elections, it seems, ballot initiatives regarding alcohol and marijuana have drawn local voters to the polls, especially during presidential elections. For instance, 74% of the voters turned out in 2008 for the county’s first wet/dry issue, which failed before votes could be counted because of a lawsuit. The wet/dry issue returned to the ballot in 2010, a midterm year that drew 66% of the county’s voters to the polls. When medical marijuana appeared on the 2016 ballot that included a presidential election, 70% of Clark County turned out.

Midterm elections generally pale in comparison. Only 52% of Clark County voters went to the polls in 2006, and 56% showed up for both the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections.

Several federal and state offices will be decided in this election, as well as four proposed amendments to the state’s Constitution. This year, marijuana is back on the ballot, but this time voters will consider whether marijuana should be legal for recreational use.

Many local positions will be decided in this election.

On the county level, the county clerk’s position is up for grabs and has two candidates vying against each other. Tracy Rider and Tina Johnson are on the ballot as Republican and Democrat, respectively. Rider, an Arkadelphia business owner, currently has a seat on the quorum court, and Johnson works as a deputy clerk in the county clerk’s office.

There are multiple races on for justice of the peace districts, and regardless of the outcome the Clark County Quorum Court will look a lot different come Jan. 1. Of the 11 seats on the quorum court, five are being contested in the general election.

Zach Bledsoe (D) and Matthew Taylor (R) are vying for the open JP District 1 position. Michael Ankton (D) is challenging incumbent Darin “Spud” Buscher (R) for the JP District 2 position. Incumbent Vanilla Hannah (D) faces challenger Nick Stover (R) for the JP District 3 position. Incumbent Garry “B.J.” Johns (R) faces challenger Amelia May Johnson (I) for the JP District 8 position. Incumbent Andrea Angle (R) faces challenger Valerie Johnson (D) for the JP District 9 position.

Four JP seats were decided in the May primary election, with three of the four victors being new names on the quorum court roster. The new faces will be Jimmy King, Mark Overturf and Tracy Ellis Drake; Wayne Baumgardner retained his seat despite a challenger in the primary. Two justices — Albert Neal (JP4) and Jenna Scott (JP7) — had no opposition in the May primary.

There is also a race for Caddo Township Constable, with incumbent George Hawthorn (R) facing Zack Garrett (D) as a challenger for the unpaid constable position.

Early voting: When and Where

Early voting started Monday, Oct. 24, and will continue through Nov. 7.

To cast an early ballot, take a photo identification to the Arkadelphia Recreation Center, 2555 Twin Rivers Dr., Arkadelphia, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays through Friday, Nov. 4. The Rec Center will be open for voting both Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. through Election Day. The final day to cast an early ballot is Monday, Nov. 7, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Election Day: When and Where

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, with polls opening at 7:30 a.m. at the following locations:

Amity City Hall, 121 E. Thompson St.

Arkadelphia Recreation Center, 2555 Twin Rivers Dr.

Caddo Valley City Hall, 137 Malvern Road

Clark County Training Center, 35 McClellan Blvd. (Gum Springs)

First Methodist Church, 107 N. 9th St., Arkadelphia

Gurdon Municipal Building, 103 Maple St.

Manchester Community Building, 1216 Manchester Road

Okolona City Hall, 307 S. Main St.

St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 1505 Caddo St., Arkadelphia

Polls will close at 7:30 p.m. Early voting results are announced at the Clark County District Courtroom, typically around 8 p.m., with Election Day totals announced once they’re tallied.

New for this election

Voters will notice a new feature on voting machines that notes after each page if any race has been missed. The machine will prompt voters again before they cast a ballot.

Before you vote

Voters may view a precinct-specific ballot before voting at voterview.org. There, voters will also be able to read the proposed amendments.

For questions about voting or the election process, contact Vance’s office at 870-246-4491.

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