LITTLE ROCK — Tens of thousands of Arkansans cast ballots on Monday, the last day of early voting for the general election.
Secretary of State Mark Martin said on social media that by 4 p.m. Monday, 22,184 early votes has been cast statewide that day and 587,452 votes had been cast since early voting began Oct. 24. Early voting officially ended at 5 p.m., though election officials said they would not turn away voters who were already in the early voting locations at that hour.
In 2012, the last election year with a presidential race on the ballot, 439,262 Arkansans voted early. In 2008, 402,904 cast early ballots.
In Pulaski County, election officials said that as of 5 p.m., 78,411 voters had cast early ballots, 1,872 of them on Monday. About 75,000 cast early ballots in the county in 2012, said county Director of Elections Bryan Poe.
Workers at the Pulaski County Regional Building in downtown Little Rock set up two rooms for voting Monday so that people could form two lines instead of just one. Even so, both lines stretched down the block Monday afternoon.
“This is something different that we did this year because we knew we would have a lot of people on the last day,” Poe said.
He said there had been no problems between voters except for one incident.
“We had one guy poking another guy with an umbrella,” he said.
In Sebastian County, 29,160 voters had cast ballots by about 5 p.m., 3,276 of them on Monday, an election official said. The 2012 early voting for the county was 17,861.
An election worker in Jefferson County said shortly after 5 p.m. Monday that workers were too busy helping people vote to have taken a count.
Garland County Election Commission Chairman Gene Haley said 27,226 people had voted in that county by shortly after 5 p.m., 2,341 of them on Monday. About 22,000 voted early in the county four years ago, he said.
“It’s huge,” Haley said of this year’s turnout for early voting.
At the top of the ballot is the presidential race, with Democrat Hilary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, Prohibition Party candidate James Hedges and independent candidates Lynn Kahn and Evan McMullin on the state’s ballot.
Arkansans also are deciding a Senate race between Republican incumbent John Boozman, Democrat Conner Eldridge and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.
All four of Arkansas’ U.S. House members are on the ballot, but only Republican incumbent 2nd District Rep. French Hill has drawn a major-party challenger, Democrat Dianne Curry. Libertarian Chris Hayes is also challenging Hill.
Four proposed constitutional amendments are on the ballot:
• Issue 1, which would expand the terms of most county officials from two to four years, prohibit any elected county official from being appointed or elected to any civil office, allow a candidate for office who is unopposed to be elected without appearing on the ballot and set out what is an “infamous crime” that would make a person who has been convicted of such a crime ineligible to hold public office.
• Issue 2, which would allow the governor to retain his or her powers when traveling out of the state.
• Issue 3, which would remove a cap on bonds the state can issue for large economic development projects in one year; allow city and county governments to devote funds to economic development projects; allow cities, counties and school districts to form compacts to pursue economic development projects; allow counties and cities to issue bonds for economic development projects; allow the Legislature to authorize the use other tax dollars besides the revenue from special taxes to pay off municipal and county bond debt; and remove a requirement that municipal and county bonds be sold only at public sale.
• Issue 6, which would allow the sale and use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions, with a doctor’s recommendation.
Three measures that were certified for the ballot — including a rival measure to legalize medical marijuana, Issue 7 — have been disqualified by the state Supreme Court, which has said no votes cast for them may be counted.