Last week was a slow one for legislative meetings, but we will make up for that this week. The Arkansas Legislative Council will meet this Friday and many of its subcommittees meet earlier in the week, including the Arkansas Game & Fish/State Police subcommittee, and the Higher Education subcommittee, both on which I serve. Remember you can watch all legislative meetings live on our House website, www.arkansashouse.org. You can also find a calendar of all our legislative activity at www.arkleg.state.ar.us.
I was excited to participate last week in the Veterans Affairs (VA) “I’m Not Invisible” campaign, which is partnered with the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA). The campaign will spotlight and recognize Arkansas Women Veterans with a picture exhibit at events throughout our state. It is designed to recognize and raise awareness of contributions that women have had while in the military and after they have separated. Gene Russell, photographer and Army Veteran, took photos of several Arkansas women veterans, including three of us from Monticello. Sue Harper (Army), who currently serves veterans all over south Arkansas as our Regional Veterans Service Officer and Melissa Orrell (Marines), the editor of the Advance Monticellonian newspaper and online @mymonticellonews.net, also are part of this project.
Speaking of veterans, if you are a veteran, or know one that needs assistance locating resources, go to https://maketheconnection.net. It’s a one-stop-shop for every imaginable need for veterans and their families.
Did you hear the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s announcement last week that roseate spoonbills and white-faced ibis have been seen successfully nesting in Ashley County? These birds are normally found in coastal marshes and wetlands, and only for a few months each year in the southernmost parts of Arkansas, before they head further south to tropical locations. If you want to know more, or are interested in some amazing photos of a variety of wildlife species, check out one of the several Facebook groups dedicated to Arkansas wildlife photography.
We continue to be challenged by the climbing number of COVID-19 cases in our state. I have heard from many of you about the Governor’s mask mandate, with those who reached out in agreement far exceeding those that have told me they don’t like it. Regardless, we can all agree that getting our numbers down and people well is important to every aspect of our lives.
Have you started thinking about the November elections and how to make sure your vote counts? Arkansans who may have concerns about going to the polls this November while the health crisis continues need to start making plans now.
Arkansas law allows voters to request absentee ballots if they will be “unavoidably absent” on Election Day or if they have illnesses or physical disabilities. Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston has interpreted this law to allow the ability to vote with an absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Hutchinson and both the Republican and Democratic Party leaders have voiced their agreement.
You can begin requesting absentee ballots from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office or your local county clerk right now. To receive an absentee ballot, you must be a registered voter. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 5.
The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 27, though a voter can pick up an absentee ballot in person until November 2, the day before the election.
All absentee ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, to be counted.
You can designate on your applications how you want to receive your ballot: by picking it up in person, by mail, or by having a designated person pick it up for you.
The absentee voting requirements are different from the universal vote-by-mail system in place in some states, which send a ballot by mail to every registered voter. In Arkansas, a voter must request an absentee ballot. Absentee voters are also required to submit a copy of their photo ID with their ballot.
For more information on how to download an absentee ballot application and how to contact your county clerk, visit the Arkansas House website at arkansashouse.org.
It remains my great honor to serve as Representative for District 9. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. Call and message me at 870-460-0773, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me on Facebook @BurchforAR. I look forward to hearing from you.