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Weekly Address — December 27, 2019

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

The legislature is in that quiet period between Christmas and New Year’s, and almost nobody is stirring in the Capitol. The halls are quiet, except for a few visitors from around the world.

We can be truly proud of our Capitol, which in a typical year is visited by tourists from Australia, Israel, France, South Africa, Latin America and all of the 50 states.

When activity picks up again next week, lawmakers will turn their focus to the elections. We’ve enacted several reforms to our voting laws, not only to ensure that elections are conducted fairly, but to give Arkansas more influence in nominating presidential candidates.

Traditionally, our primaries are in May. However, in 2020 they will take place on Tuesday, March 3.

Presumably, the presidential campaigns will still be in full swing. In the past, both major political parties had already chosen a candidate by the time we held our primaries in May.

Another major change in our election laws will affect citizens’ groups wanting to place an issue on the ballot.

The attorney general will no longer approve the ballot title and popular name. That will be done by the state Board of Election Commissioners.

The groups will submit signatures on petitions at the same time they submit a proposed ballot title for their issue. If the Board of Election Commissioners invalidates either the title, or the sufficiency of the signatures, any appeals to the Supreme Court will be expedited.

Political ads on TV will seem endless, and I’ll have to remind myself that they are a necessary part of our democratic system of government.

They may be annoying sometimes, but they represent a healthy debate between people with different political opinions.

Choosing our leaders shouldn’t be taken for granted, because it’s a freedom that is the envy of millions of people across the world.

From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Senator Keith Ingram.


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