From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Early voting has already begun for this year’s May primary elections.
Election day is Tuesday, May 24, but you can vote early from Monday through Friday during business hours. You can vote early on Saturdays, but only from 10 a.m. to 4 in the afternoon.
The county clerk’s office will have all the information you need about early voting locations, and the hours that polling sites are open.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for everyone to get out and vote.
Over the past few elections, voter turnout has been steadily going down. When voter turnout is low, unqualified candidates have a better chance of winning.
If you have a government issued photo ID, you’ll need to present it. Valid photo ID’s include drivers’ licenses, passport, concealed carry permits, a military ID, a student ID from your college or university. A public assistance card is valid if it has your photo on it.
If you forget your ID, you will have to cast a provisional ballot. In order for your vote to be counted you have to bring it to the county clerk’s office by noon on Monday after election day.
If you don’t have any type of photo ID card, you can get a voter ID card at the county clerk’s office.
If you plan to vote absentee, you’ll need to include a copy of your identification card.
There will be new restrictions on people who assist others who want to vote absentee. Previously, if someone possessed more than 10 absentee ballots it was presumed they intended to commit voter fraud.
A new law now states that if possession of more than four absentee ballots creates the presumption of voter fraud.
When you apply for an absentee ballot, write your name carefully. I say that because another new law requires election officials to compare the signature on your application with the signature on your original voter registration form.
In my case, I first registered to vote a long time ago. I’m sure my signature has changed over the years.
I know it can seem complicated. That’s one reason I strongly opposed the new election laws, because I believe we should make it easy and convenient for people to vote, instead of making it more complicated.
Arkansas has experienced few instances of voter fraud, and those were detected quickly by authorities.
Because of the new voting laws, it’s more important than ever that you get prepared now. Don’t wait until election day. Make sure your photo ID is up to date. Find out if your voting place has been moved.
I encourage people to get into the habit of voting every election, so that it’s as natural as picking up groceries on your way home.
And no matter which candidate comes out ahead on May 24th, keep this in mind --- if you vote you’re a winner.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.