From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Early voting has begun, and according to county clerks across Arkansas voter turnout is steady.
Election officials predict that when all the ballots are counted after the November 8th general election, turnout will be about 51 percent.
I think we can do better than that. When you go to the polls, take a family member with you.
When you go to work, encourage people to vote.
You don’t have to start an argument about politics, but you can remind people how important it is that we exercise the most basic of our Constitutional rights.
This year’s ballot has contested races for all the state constitutional offices.
That means you not only get to vote for your choice of candidate for governor, but also for attorney general, secretary of state, land commissioner, state treasurer, state auditor and lieutenant governor.
Ballots will include races for the House of Representatives and the state Senate.
The legislators you elect to represent you in Little Rock will approve funding for public schools, higher education, health care, highways, law enforcement and prisons.
There are Congressional races on the ballot, as well as a race for the United States Senate, so your vote helps determine who will represent Arkansas in Washington, D.C.
There is a race for a position on the state Supreme Court. There are races for local elected office, such as alderman on the city council, JP’s on the county Quorum Court, sheriff and county clerk.
Depending on where you live, there will be ballot issues such as whether or not to renew bond issues or extend millages for schools and libraries.
There are four proposed amendments to the state Constitution.
Issue One would allow the legislature to call itself into special session.
Issue Two would make it harder to win approval of ballot issues, because it would require a 60 percent supermajority for measures to be enacted.
Issue Three would allow lawsuits if people felt a government decision was a burden on their religious beliefs.
Issue Four would legalize recreational marijuana.
If you want to look at a sample ballot, and get information about your polling place, the Secretary of State has a special web site.
Do an Internet search for these words: Arkansas Voter View.
You fill in your name and birth date, and if you are a registered voter it will bring up your polling location. At the bottom of the page is a link to a sample ballot for all the races in your precinct.
More than ever, it’s important that we make our voices heard. Make the effort to vote, and encourage your friends and family to vote.
It makes a big difference.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.