A guide to voter rights in Arkansas. What you need to know before you cast a ballot

EDITOR'S NOTE: This page is part of a comprehensive guide to state voting rights across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

Arkansas saw an expansion of Black voter participation immediately following the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, resulting in the election of the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. In recent years, the state has expanded the use of voting centers to make casting a ballot easier. But lawmakers also have tightened the state’s voter ID law and shortened the early voting period and the length of time voters have to submit absentee ballots.

Is there voter fraud in Arkansas?

Voter fraud is not specifically defined in Arkansas Law. In the 2020 election, the State Election Board processed 51 separate complaints involving about 190 separate allegations. Some of these were dismissed as lacking merit, while others were found to be true. Some complainants alleged violations by election officials, such as not meeting required deadlines.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State

Can felons vote in Arkansas?

To register, a resident must not be a convicted felon whose sentence has not been discharged or pardoned; or presently adjudged as mentally incompetent to vote by a court of competent jurisdiction. A person convicted of a felony must provide proof to a county registrar that their sentence has been completed and that any outstanding fines or restitution has been paid to register to vote.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State; ACLU of Arkansas

What ID do I need to vote in Arkansas?

Voters must verify voter registration with an official photo ID at the polls. Acceptable forms of ID are those issued by the U.S. government, the state of Arkansas, or an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the state of Arkansas. Expired IDs must be expired no more than four years before the date of the election in which the voter seeks to vote. Residents of long-term care or residential care facilities licensed by the state are not required to present a document or identification card but must provide documentation from the administrator of the facility attesting that the person is a resident of the facility.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State

How do I vote early in Arkansas?

Depending on the type of election, early votes may be cast during the seven or 15 days prior to election day. Early voting is conducted at the county clerk's office in most places in Arkansas. During a preferential primary or general election, early voting is available 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and ends at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the election. During all other elections, early voting is available during the county clerk's regular office hours.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State

How does absentee voting work in Arkansas?

Arkansas voters are eligible for absentee voting if they cannot make it to the polls on election day for one of the following reasons: The voter will be unavoidably absent from their polling location on election day; the voter is physically unable to visit their polling location on election day due to illness or disability; the voter is a member of the armed forces; the voter is a citizen temporarily living outside of the United States. To vote absentee, a request must be received by election officials either seven days prior to the election if submitted by mail or fax, or by close of business the Friday before the election if submitted in person. The deadline for delivery of a voted ballot to the county clerk in-person or by a designated bearer is the close of business the Friday before the election. Absentee ballots that are mailed must be received by the county clerk's office by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee votes may not be emailed or faxed.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State

Does Arkansas allow mail-in voting?

Arkansas law allows a registered voter to apply to vote without having to appear in person at the poll. This process is available to voters who may be unavoidably absent from the poll on election day, who are unable to attend the polls on election day because of illness or physical disability, or who are absent from the poll on election day because they reside in a long-term care or residential care facility licensed by the state.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State

How does redistricting work in Arkansas?

After the 2020 census, Arkansas was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the same number it had after the last Census, in 2010. Opponents of the latest proposal which split two counties into multiple districts said redistricting was done along partisan and racial lines. The ACLU of Arkansas filed a lawsuit against the House plan but the newly drawn maps took effect for the 2022 legislative elections.

Source: Arkansas government

What is allowed at my Arkansas polling place?

A new photo identification law eliminated the option that allowed voters to have their ballot counted even if they did not bring a photo ID to the polling place. Now, if a person cannot present a photo ID they must cast a provisional ballot that will not be counted unless they appear in person and present an ID by noon on the Monday following the election. Arkansas law restricts loitering within 100 feet outside the main entrance to a polling site. With some exceptions, someone who has five or more absentee ballots in their possession is presumed to intend to commit voter fraud. Previously, a person could possess 10 absentee ballots without triggering that presumption.

Source: Arkansas Secretary of State



This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas 2022 voter rights: What to know before election day