Turnout high for early voting

Early voters consider their ballots at the Crossett Voting Center during the second day of voting for the Nov. 3 general election. (VERSHAL HOGAN/News Observer)

More voters cast early ballots at the Crossett Voting Center on the first day of early voting for the Nov. 3 general election than did in total for the May sewer improvement tax election.

At the close of the first day, 472 ballots had been cast at the center. For comparison, the sewer improvement tax vote on May 12 had 368 voters participate.

“I have been doing this for maybe 10 years, and that may be the busiest day I’ve worked,” said Billy Bolin, precinct sheriff for the Crossett Voting Center. “People were lined up at 7:30 a.m. When we opened at 8 a.m. (Monday), we probably had 30 people waiting.”

The same was true at the early voting center located at the Ashley County Courthouse.

“We had a line out to the road in Hamburg,” Assistant County Clerk Wanda Rush said.

In the first day of voting in Hamburg, 275 ballots were cast, and assistant clerks said Tuesday that a steady stream of people was still coming in.

The heavier volume of voters in Crossett may have been in part because the polls were open to more than residents who live in the city limits, but also because of the high-interest Presidential and state legislative races on the ballot. Still, it’s noteworthy that more people showed up in one day of an election than did over two weeks of another in the same calendar year.

Some voters have expressed concerns about waits on Election Day or exposure to COVID-19 during a long wait, so early voting gives them significantly more chances to cast their ballots without having to linger at a polling place. After a long campaign season — the Presidential campaign has been seemingly rolling forward for years, and the legislative campaigns began in the spring — many voters may have made up their minds and see no need to wait until Nov. 3.

Early voting is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 31. 

The early polls will close at 5 p.m. Nov. 2.

The voting centers for early voting are the Crossett Community Center at 105 W. Second Ave., in Crossett, and at the Ashley County Courthouse at 205 E. Jefferson St., in Hamburg.

In the 2016 Presidential election, 8,083 — approximately 64 percent of registered voters at that time — cast ballots in the election.

Those who wish to vote may do so by absentee ballot through the mail, a process that has been approved for those who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19. 

Voters can obtain absentee ballots from the County Clerk’s office, by mail, in person, or through a designated agent. 

Completed and mailed absentee ballots must reach the County Clerk’s Office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Those who wish to use absentee ballots must obtain them by Oct. 27.

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