The material found on this page provides general information on some common questions concerning the elections process. Please contact us for more specific information about a given topic.
Poll Watchers and Vote Challenges
Vacancies in Office
Q: How can an election clerk or county election commissioner determine if a signature matches on an absentee ballot application?
A: Election clerks and county election commissioners must use their best judgment and any other documents that might be available to them when attempting to determine if an absentee voter’s signatures match.
If any absentee election clerk believes that the information on an absentee voter’s absentee application does not match the information on the absentee voter’s voter statement, the absentee voter’s absentee Return Envelope with all its contents should be set aside for delivery to the county election commission.
The county election commission must compare the absentee voter’s absentee application against the absentee voter’s voter statement and ultimately determine whether the information compares as to name, address, date of birth, and signature, and thus, whether or not the vote will be counted. [A.C.A. § 7-5-416(b)(1)(F)]
Q: What is the procedure for “certifying the ballot” to the county clerk?
A: The law provides that the county board of election commissioners will provide ballots for absentee and early voting to the county clerk before the beginning day for absentee and early voting and that no paper ballot shall be received or counted in any election unless provided by the county board of election commissioners. The law further requires that if any errors or omissions are discovered in the preparation of ballots, the county board must hold a public meeting and announce the ballot errors or omissions and immediately correct the error or omission or show cause why the correction should not be made. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-209; 7-5-211(c); 7-5-407; 7-5-602(b)]
There is no legal requirement or procedure addressed in Arkansas election law for the county election commission officially certifying the accuracy of ballots to the county clerk.
Q: Must the county clerk provide the county board of election commissioners with copies of each candidate’s political practices pledge?
A: A candidate for county, township, school, and municipal office files his or her political practices pledge with the county clerk, but the county board of election commissioners is responsible for certifying the form in which these candidates’ names will appear on the ballot.
The law does not specify a format for providing the information to the county board. It is the opinion of the State Board staff that the best practice would be for the county clerk to provide copies of the political practices pledges to the county board of election commissioners for the purpose of reviewing the names and titles proposed to be used by the candidates to ensure compliance with the requirements of the law. [A.C.A. §§ 6-14-111; 7-6-102; 7-7-305(c); 7-10-103(f)]
Q: Who retains a candidate’s affidavit of eligibility?
A: It varies depending upon the office sought.
Political party candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, state, and district office file the affidavit of eligibility with the secretary of the state committee of the political party. [A.C.A. § 7-7-301]
Political party candidates for county, municipal, and township office, candidates for county committee member, and delegates to the county convention file the affidavit of eligibility with the secretary of the county committee of the political party. [A.C.A. § 7-7-301]
School board candidates file the affidavit of eligibility with the county clerk of the county in which the school district is domiciled for administrative purposes. [A.C.A. § 6-14-111]
Independent and write-in candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state, and district offices file the affidavit of eligibility with the Secretary of State, and county and township offices file with the county clerk. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-205; 7-7-103]
Nonpartisan judicial candidates do not file an affidavit of eligibility. [A.C.A. § 7-10-103]
Q: May candidates pay the party filing fee before the party filing period?
A: No. The law establishes a specific period of time known as the “party filing period” for candidates running for a political party’s nomination to file a party certificate indicating the name and title proposed by the candidate to appear on the ballot, the position the candidate seeks, payment of fees, and filing of the party pledge, if any. Candidates may not pay the party filing fee before the party filing period established by law. [A.C.A. §§ 7-1-101(19), (20); 7-7-203(c)]
Q: What is the process for challenging a candidate based on eligibility? Can a party keep a candidate off the ballot based on its own determination of eligibility?
A: Each political party is responsible for determining the qualification of candidates seeking nomination by the political party and for providing, accepting, and processing applications for candidacy. [A.C.A. § 7-7-201(b)(4)] A party cannot keep a candidate off the ballot based on its determination that the candidate is ineligible. [See Ivy v. Republican Party, 318 Ark. 50, 883 S.W.2d 805 (1994) (only judge can remove an ineligible candidate).]
During the party filing period, a party candidate is required to file an affidavit of eligibility with the party stating that he or she is eligible to serve in the office sought. [A.C.A. §§ 7-1-101(2); 7-7-301]
Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-5-805 addresses contests to the eligibility and qualifications of members of the State Senate and State House of Representatives. Otherwise, any challenge of a candidate’s eligibility to run for office would ultimately be decided by a court of law.
Q: May an election commissioner serve as a poll watcher?
A: A poll watcher may represent either a candidate on the ballot, a group seeking passage or defeat of a measure on the ballot, or a political party with a candidate on the ballot. A poll watcher’s role in the election process is to observe and determine the identity of persons presenting themselves to vote in person or by absentee for the purpose of voter challenges, to observe and report to the election judge or sheriff irregularities in voting at the polls, and to witness the counting of ballots to determine whether ballots are fairly and accurately counted in accordance with the law. [A.C.A. § 7-5-312]
From a legal position, serving as a poll watcher in the capacity of an authorized representative of a candidate on the ballot could be construed as participating in a person’s campaign and, therefore, prohibited under Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-4-109(c)(2)(A).
As a practical matter, there are several conflicts created in serving as a representative of a group or political party that would interfere with the commissioner’s ability to fulfill his or her official duties and responsibilities as a member of the commission. In serving as a representative of a group, a commissioner is placed in a position of advocating the passage or defeat of a ballot measure for which he or she will later be counting the vote. In serving as a poll watcher, a commissioner is placed in a position of challenging a voter whose provisional ballot the commission must review before final certification to determine whether or not to count the vote. In both situations, the commissioner should recuse from the counting process due to the appearance of possible bias or personal interest. Most critically, in serving as a poll watcher, a commissioner is placed in a position of being unavailable to provide assistance to the election workers and voters on election day.
Q: Must an election commissioner resign from the commission when running for public office?
A: Yes. The law prohibits serving as a county election commissioner while a candidate for any office to be filled at any election. The moment a commissioner files for public office, he or she is no longer eligible to serve on the commission. [A.C.A. § 7-4-109(a)(2)]
If that individual continues to perform the official duties of a county election commissioner, every decision of the commission is subject to legal action, including the certification of election results.
Q: For which elections must the county board of election commissioners file a Statement of Compliance?
A: This form is not required to be filed as a result of Act 1238 of 2011. The State Board will continue to provide a checklist in the commissioners’ manual as a tool to assist election officials to fulfill their duties.
Q: How is the chairman of the county board of election commissioners elected? How often must this election be held?
A: The law requires that each county board of election commissioners meet at the courthouse at least thirty (30) days before the general election to elect one (1) member to serve as chairman. [A.C.A. § 7-4-105(a)] Otherwise, a new chairman may be elected at any public meeting of the county board by a majority vote of the three member commission.
Q: Why are commission members not allowed to participate in a campaign apart from making financial contributions?
A: Commission members are not allowed to participate in a campaign because it is against the law. Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-4-109 addresses the qualifications of county commissioners and prohibits a commissioner from participating in the campaign of any person on the county’s ballot, except for making a financial contribution to a candidate.
Q: How often must commissioners take an oath?
A: A commissioner must take the oath of office within thirty (30) days of selection to the county board and will hold office until his or her successor is appointed and qualified. [A.C.A. §§ 7-4-102(b); 7-4-105] It is possible that one (1) oath could apply to the entirety of a commissioner’s service.
Q: May commissioners display bumper stickers and/or yard signs?
A: A.C.A. § 7-1-101(10) defines each member of the county board of election commissioners as an election official.
Electioneering includes attempting to win votes by displaying signs or other articles of influence. [A.C.A. § 7-1-104(a)(7)]
A.C.A. § 7-1-103(a)(9)(A) prohibits an election official acting in his or her official capacity from electioneering on any election day or any day on which early voting is allowed.
A.C.A. § 7-4-109(c)(2) prohibits county election commissioners from participating in the campaign of any person listed on the county’s ballot, except for making a financial contribution to a candidate’s campaign.
Attorney General Opinion No. 2007-281 addresses political activities of election commissioners, including use of bumper stickers and yard signs. While the opinion does not conclude whether or not putting a bumper sticker in support of a candidate on a vehicle or placing a candidate’s sign in the commissioner’s yard would constitute participating in a campaign, it does opine that a court would likely conclude that a commissioner may display a bumper sticker and yard signs. A copy of the opinion can be obtained by visiting the attorney general’s website at www.ag.arkansas.gov.
We suggest erring on the side of caution and when in doubt, don’t do it.
Q: May a Quorum Court member serve as a commissioner?
A: Yes and No.
A.C.A. § 7-4-109(a)(2) prohibits an election official (commissioner) from being a candidate for any office to be filled at any election while serving as an election official (commissioner).
While a commissioner could serve in his or her official capacity for a special election or school election, he or she would be prohibited from serving in the capacity of a commissioner when on the ballot at the preferential primary and general elections.
Q: Can early voting be held in the county clerk’s office even when the clerk has an opponent? What if one of the county clerk’s deputies is running for another office and is also on the ballot?
A: Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-5-401 charges county clerks and their staff with all the powers and duties concerning absentee voting and with early voting required by law of the county clerk’s office according to A.C.A. § 7-5-418, and the law does not prohibit their conducting early voting under the circumstances presented.
Q: Does the commission have the authority to prohibit early voting in the county clerk’s office?
A: No. The commission may determine by unanimous vote to hold off-site early voting in addition to early voting held in the county clerk’s office.
Q. When may a county clerk choose not to have early voting in his or her office?
If the commission holds early voting at one (1) or more conveniently located off-site early voting locations for the full range of early voting days and hours required by law, then the county clerk has the option of foregoing early voting in his or her designated early voting location. [A.C.A. § 7-5-418(b)]
Q: Is it okay to hold early voting in the courthouse (or near the courthouse) but not in the clerk’s office?
A: Yes. Early voting may be conducted in the county clerk’s office, the county clerk’s designated early voting location, off-site by the commission, or by both the county clerk and the commission. Off-site early voting requires a unanimous vote of the commission. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-401(b); 7-5-418(b)]
Q: What are the requirements for hours for off-site early voting?
A: The days and hours of early voting vary depending upon the type of election being held and depending upon who holds early voting: the county clerk, county election commission, or both. Regardless, at least one (1) conveniently located early voting location must be open on all the days and times required by law. Other locations may have limited days and hours to accommodate the needs of the county. For example, a commission may choose to open an early voting poll in a location that is not near the county seat for only one day of off-site early voting to provide an opportunity for voting early without having to travel to the county seat. [A.C.A. § 7-5-418]
Q: Ten (10) reputable citizens may contest an election. Must these reputable citizens also be registered voters?
A: Not according to A.C.A. § 7-5-807 which allows for ten (10) reputable citizens of any county to file a complaint with the circuit judge after any election.
Note the distinction made in A.C.A. § 7-9-121 that specifically requires that any contest of the returns and certification of the votes cast upon any measure be made by twenty-five (25) qualified electors (registered voters) of the state.
Q. What are the public notice requirements for May primary and June primary runoff elections?
A: A.C.A. § 7-5-202 addresses the public notice of the election. It requires that the public be notified in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of the date of the election, the hours of voting on election day, the places and times for early voting, the polling sites for holding the election, and the candidates and offices to be elected.
For the May primary election, the commission must publish the public notice of the election at least twenty (20) days before the election and again at least five (5) days before the election.
For the June primary runoff election, the commission must publish the public notice of the election at least ten (10) days before the election and again at least five (5) days before the election.
A.C.A. § 7-5-101(d)(3) requires that a notice of any changes made in polling sites be posted at the polling sites that were used in the last election.
The statute also requires that the notice be mailed by the county clerk to each affected registered voter at least fifteen (15) days before the election. A single mailing addressing any changes in polling sites for both the primary and runoff elections that was sent at least fifteen (15) days before the May primary election would satisfy this requirement for both elections.
Q: May a county post its notices on a web-site in lieu of a newspaper of general circulation?
A: No. To post notices on a web-site in lieu of publishing in a newspaper of general circulation would require legislative changes to several election laws, including without limitation, the following statutes:
A.C.A. § 6-14-106(d) requires publication before any school election of the polling sites for each ward or precinct and changes in polling sites since the last school election in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties in which the school district is located.
A.C.A. § 6-14-109 requires that before each school election the notice of the time, place, and questions to be submitted to the voters be published once a week for three (3) weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties in which the school district is administered.
A.C.A. § 7-5-202(a) requires that public notice of the election be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.
A.C.A. § 7-5-416(a)(2) requires public notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of the time and location of the opening, processing, canvassing, and counting of absentee and early voting ballots.
A.C.A. § 7-5-515(c)(2) requires that the notice of the time and place of testing voting machines be published in one or more daily or weekly newspapers in the town, city, or county using the machines.
A.C.A. § 7-5-516 requires that the notice of the time and place of voting machine preparation be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.
A.C.A. § 7-5-611(a)(3) requires that the notice of the time and place of testing electronic vote tabulating devices be published in one or more daily or weekly newspapers in the town, city or county using the devices.
A.C.A. § 7-7-305(b) requires that the notice of holding a public meeting to draw for ballot position be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.
A.C.A. §§ 7-11-103(b) and 7-11-202(b) require publication of the document calling a special election in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the special election is being held.
Q: If a county courthouse is declared closed due to a county festival, does that constitute a county holiday and therefore prohibit early voting during the festival?
A: A.C.A. § 7-5-418(a)(1)(B) prohibits early voting on state or county holidays.
Each county may determine its own process for declaring official county holidays. If this process has been duly executed, then the law would prohibit early voting on that day.
Q: I disagree with part of the Arkansas Code, or find it to be unfair. How can I address this?
A: The Arkansas Code is revised by the legislature by way of legislative acts or by the people by means of initiative or referendum petition. To make your views heard on legislative changes, you should contact your State Senator and your State Representative.
Q: Why are school elections held in September, instead of with other elections? Is it possible to move the filing period? Q. We have only three (3) weeks to program machines and ballots between an election and a runoff; this doesn’t seem like a lot of time. What can be done about this?
A: The dates for holding all elections, as well the dates for candidate filing periods, are established by law and any revision would require a legislative change by the Arkansas General Assembly by way of a legislative act or by the people by means of initiative or referendum petition. When you are working within a tight time limitation, it is crucial to work closely with your vendors and contract labor, as applicable, to ensure that all deadlines are met. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-102; 7-5-106(a); 7-7-203(b); 7-8-101; 6-14-111(e), (g); 7-5-205; 7-7-103; 7-7-203(c); 7-8-302; 7-10-103; 14-42-206; 14-47-110; Article 14, Section 3 of the Arkansas Constitution as amended by Amendments 1, 11, and 40; A.C.A. § 6-14-102(a)(1); Attorney General’s Opinion No. 96-380]
Q. Must the polling locations for the May Preferential Primary Election and the June Primary Runoff Election be the same?
Q. Can the election commission “close” a precinct?
Q. What is the process for consolidating polling sites?
A: A.C.A. § 7-5-101 addresses county boards of election commissioners establishing and changing election precincts and designating a polling site for each precinct.
The statute requires the commission, by a unanimous vote of the members present, to designate a polling site for each precinct. The statute allows that a polling site may serve more than one (1) precinct or parts of precincts.
The commission must hold a public meeting at least (30) days before the May primary election to establish polling sites for the election. The statute prohibits the commission from changing a polling site less than thirty (30) days before the election, except for an emergency. As you know, there are only twenty-one (21) days between an election and any subsequent runoff election.
Remember that polling sites for any election other than a school election always revert back to their locations at the last November general election, so when a change is made for any election, the change is for that election only.
Because of this, and the thirty (30) day requirement, it is important to consider changes to the polling locations for any subsequent runoff election when planning the locations for the primary election.
Following any change or consolidation of polling sites, the county clerk must send out a notice to those voters affected by the change at least fifteen (15) days before the election, except for school and special elections. Additionally, a notice directing voters to the new sites must be posted by the commission at the previous polling sites used in the last election.
The commission may use its judgment to make the best choices for its county, as long as every precinct is assigned to a polling site, whether or not the polling site is located within the precinct.
Q: A polling place may not be changed within thirty (30) days of an election, except in the case of an emergency. What constitutes an emergency?
A: The term “emergency” is not defined in the laws governing the conduct of elections. Emergencies may include sudden unavailability of a polling site or of poll workers to adequately staff a polling site as originally planned. If it becomes necessary to change a polling site at the last minute, a notice advising voters of the change must be posted at the old polling site. [A.C.A. § 7-5-101(d)(2), (3)]
Q: Must a poll watcher have a separate Poll Watcher Authorization form for each precinct? What is the process for a poll watcher to be “reassigned” to a different precinct?
A: A single Poll Watcher Authorization Form may list multiple polling sites. If, on election day, a candidate, group, or party wishes to authorize a poll watcher for additional polls other than those on the initial form, an additional form would need to be notarized and filed with the county clerk before proceeding to the newly authorized locations. [A.C.A. § 7-5-312(d)]
Q: How close may those observing, including the public and any poll watchers or candidates, stand to the election clerks processing and counting the absentee ballots?
A: Although the law does not dictate a specific distance, all observers must be allowed to stand close enough to hear and see the process. They may not interfere with the officials lawfully conducting the canvass, however, and any violation shall be considered a Class A misdemeanor offense punishable by fine or confinement. [A.C.A. § 7-1-103(a)(20)(G)]
Q: When may a poll watcher challenge a voter?
A: A poll watcher may challenge a voter on the grounds that the voter has already voted in the election or that the voter is ineligible to vote in the precinct by notifying a poll worker of the challenge at any point before the voter signs the Precinct Voter Registration list. [A.C.A. § 7-5-312(g), (h)]
Q: Must we use minority party poll workers? What if the poll workers do not wish to disclose their party affiliation?
A: The minority party member of the county election commission has the option to designate a number of poll workers equal to one (1) less than the majority of poll workers at each poll, with a minimum of two (2) poll workers per poll. Under no circumstances is a poll worker required to reveal party affiliation; rather, the law addresses only the right of the minority member to appoint poll workers of his or her choice. [A.C.A. § 7-4-107(b)]
Q: May poll workers advocate for candidates?
A: A poll worker may not be a paid employee of a political party or a paid employee of the campaign of any person running for any office on the county’s ballot [A.C.A. § 7-4-109(c)(1)] and may not do any sort of electioneering on election day or any early voting days [A.C.A. § 7-1-103(a)(9)(A)]. A poll worker is not otherwise prohibited from participating in political campaigns.
Q: May a volunteer on a campaign serve as a poll worker?
A: Yes, if they otherwise meet the qualifications of an election official as defined by A.C.A. § 7-4-109.
A paid employee of any person running for any office on the county ballot is ineligible to serve as a poll worker.
Q: How can the county election commission help educate voters about the need to choose a ballot in the primary election?
A: Voter education helps make the poll workers’ job much easier. One way to do this is through a press release to your local newspaper that explains the process before early voting begins. Counties may also wish to take advantage of every news organization’s mandated public service announcements, along with encouraging radio stations and other media to feature an announcement about ballot choices at primary elections.
At a minimum, the commission should ensure that its poll workers are properly trained on the “DOs” and “DON’Ts” of soliciting a ballot choice from the voters. This topic is covered in detail in the poll worker training guides provided to the counties by the State Board of Election Commissioners. The commission should also encourage its poll workers to direct voters' attention to the sample ballots displayed at the polls.
Q: What is the required process for notifying a provisional voter about the status of his or her ballot?
A: The law requires that the Secretary of State’s office establish a free access system through which a provisional voter may determine whether his or her vote was counted and the reason, if not counted. The system established involves written notice mailed first class to the provisional voter by the county board stating whether the ballot was counted, and if not, the reason for rejecting the provisional voter’s ballot and of the date, time, and place for a hearing before a final determination is made. In the event that the commission believes that the provisional voter’s address is not valid, there is no legal prohibition against contacting the voter by another method in addition to the required mailing. The State Board of Election Commissioners' Rules on Provisional Voting provides details on reviewing provisional ballots, providing notice to provisional voters, holding hearings, and counting provisional ballots. [A.C.A. § 7-5-308(c); Dotson v. Richey, 211 Ark. 789, 1947]
Q: In the event of a recount, must the commission count every individual vote on the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), or may they use the totals from each tape?
A: The commission may manually sum vote totals printed on the VVPAT for each candidate involved in the recount or hand count each vote for each candidate involved in the recount using the VVPAT. [A.C.A. § 7-5-319(c)]
Q: Must a “special ballot” be provided for fire districts that hold a special election at the same time as the preferential primary election?
A: When a special election on a measure or question is held on the date of the preferential primary election, the issue(s) to be voted on should be included on each political party’s ballot.
A separate ballot containing a combination of both nonpartisan candidates and the issue(s) to be voted on at the special election must be provided for voters not wishing to vote in a political party’s primary. [A.C.A. §§ 7-7-306; 7-11-105(d)(3), (4)(A); 7-11-205]
Q: What is the deadline for submitting reimbursement requests?
A: The State Board has asked that the counties submit their reimbursement requests for state-supported political party primary elections, nonpartisan judicial general elections, special primary elections, and statewide special elections as soon as practicable to ensure timely reimbursement of funds.
Q: When can commissioners and poll workers receive payment for their services?
A: This will vary from county to county. For statewide special elections and May primary elections, funding is available from the State Board of Election Commissioners in advance of the elections upon proper request made to the State Board by the county boards.
For all state-funded elections, a county is eligible to receive funding from the State Board as defined by State Board rule after the election and upon proper request made to the State Board by the county boards. Upon review by staff and approval by the State Board, the county treasurer will receive funding from the State Board for eligible state-funded election expenses for disbursement in the county.
The State Board may withhold funding from the counties for failure to comply with its rules and guidelines for reimbursement, failure to deliver certified election results to the Secretary of State, or for failure to comply with applicable state election laws until all requirements are met to the satisfaction of the State Board. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-701(c)(2); 7-5-707(e); 7-7-201(a), (b)(3); Rules for Reimbursement of Expenses for State-Funded Elections, §§ 502, 503, 504
Q: Is money available to hire additional staff to work at off-site early voting locations?
A: For state-funded elections, a county is eligible to receive funding from the State Board of Election Commissioners for paying poll workers who work off-site early voting locations under the direction and supervision of the county board at a rate per hour consistent with the current federal or state minimum wage, whichever is greater at the time of the state-funded election. [A.C.A. § 7-4-112(a); Rules for Reimbursement of Expenses for State-Funded Elections, § 506]
Q: What constitutes an invoice for a polling site?
A: It is permissible for the county to prepare an invoice and have it signed by a representative of the facility that will be used as a polling location. It is also permissible for the county to use a single invoice over the course of multiple elections where the same polling location is used. [State Board of Election Commissioners’ Rules for Reimbursement of Expenses for State-Funded Elections, §§ 506(I); 507(I) ]
Q: What should a “special runoff ballot” look like?
A: A “special runoff ballot” shall contain a listing of all qualifying candidates by office for all offices contested by three (3) or more candidates in the May primary or November general, as the case may be. The “special runoff ballot” shall permit the overseas absentee voter to vote in the runoff election by ranking the candidates for each office in the voter’s order of preference by placing the number one (1) next to the name of the voter’s first choice, the number two (2) next to the name of the voter’s second choice, and so on. [A.C.A. § 7-5-406(c)]
Q: If there are no contests in a school election for a school district having territory in multiple counties, is it still necessary to have a polling site in the second county?
A: No, the law requires this only when there is a contested election. The annual school election may be conducted using a reduced number of polling sites or by absentee and early voting only with no polling sites open, if all candidates are unopposed and there are no ballot issues for consideration other than the local tax rate if not being changed or restructured. [A.C.A. § 6-14-102(c)]
In a contested school election with a school district that covers multiple counties, at least one (1) poll must be designated in each county in which the school district has territory with a city of the second class or larger with registered voters. [A.C.A. § 6-14-106(b)]
Q: When an office is filled by temporary appointment, which official makes the appointment?
A: This varies depending upon the office. Vacancies in the U.S. Senate, state offices, and judicial offices are usually filled by appointment of the Governor, but local offices may be filled by local officials or bodies. Arkansas Code Annotated §§ 7-8-102(a), 14-14-1310, 14-42-103, 14-43-411, 14-43-412, 14-44-104, 14-44-106, 14-44-112, 14-44-116, and 14-45-103 address vacancies in various offices.
Q: May the county board of election commissioners tabulate votes before the closing of the polls?
A: The election officials may meet, process, and tabulate absentee and early votes under the supervision and direction of the county election commission before the closing of the polls on election day, but may not print or release election results before the closing of the polls on election day. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-414(c); 7-5-416(a)(5), (b)(2), (d)]
Additionally, no person may divulge the result of any vote cast before the closing of the polls on election day. To do so is a misdemeanor punishable by fine and confinement. [A.C.A. § 7-1-103(a)(22)]
Because of this, the State Board strongly urges that, for those counties that count these ballots by hand rather than using an electronic scanner, the counting should begin after the closing of the polls. The opening and processing of absentee ballots may still be done before the closing of the polls, as these do not compromise the secrecy of the votes cast.
Q: If the number of outstanding overseas absentee ballots does not affect the outcome of the election, may they go ahead and certify the election?
A: No. A.C.A. § 7-5-411(a)(1)(B) requires that overseas absentee ballots that were properly executed and received according to law must be counted and included in the final certification of the election regardless of whether the outcome of the election would change.
Q: May a voter change his residence on election day? Where would the voter cast his or her ballot in these circumstances?
A: To be qualified to vote, a person must register at least thirty (30) days before the election [A.C.A. § 7-5-201(a)] and must vote at the polling site serving the precinct where he or she resides on election day for the vote to be counted.
If on election day, the voter is not on the Precinct Voter Registration (PVR) List or if the address provided to the poll worker by the voter differs with the PVR List, the poll worker must contact the county clerk’s office to verify the voter’s precinct and correct polling site and request that the voter complete a Voter Registration Application form to update county records. If the voter is not at the correct polling site, the voter will be directed to and must go to the polling site serving his or her precinct in order for his or her ballot to be counted. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-305(a)(5); 7-5-306(a)]
Q: How is it possible to know if a person has assisted more than six (6) voters?
A: The poll workers can only ensure that a person does not assist any more than six (6) voters at that individual polling site through maintaining a list of the names and addresses of all persons assisting voters as required by law. After the election, the county election commission would compare the List of Persons Assisting Voters from all the polling locations. If it is believed that a person may have assisted more than six (6) voters, they would submit that information and any evidence to the Prosecuting Attorney [A.C.A. § 7-5-310(b)(4)(B)]. Any violation is a Class A misdemeanor offense punishable by fine or confinement. [A.C.A. § 7-1-103(a)(20)(C)]
Q: How long may a voter remain in the polling location after voting?
A: The law states that a voter must exit immediately after voting or declining to vote. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-309(e); 7-5-522(b)]
Q: May an election commissioner print the zero tapes on the voting machines before election day, or must the poll workers print the zero tapes immediately before opening the voting machines for voting?
A: Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-5-518 addresses printing of zero tapes and adjustment of counters for voting machines. It requires the poll workers to produce and sign one (1) printout tape from each voting machine showing that all candidate and question counters register zero (0). The statute requires the poll workers to immediately notify the county board if any counter does not register zero (0) for instructions on adjusting the counters to zero (0). It further requires the poll workers to post each signed printout tape on the wall of the polling room, to be displayed throughout election day.
Q: What is the difference between a “voting machine county” and a “paper ballot county”?
A: These references pertain to the county’s voting system which must consist of voting equipment selected for use by the Secretary of State and examined and approved by the State Board of Election Commissioners.
A reference to a county as a “voting machine county” means that the county has chosen by resolution of its quorum court to conduct elections using all direct recording electronic voting machines (voting machines) with at least one (1) voting machine per poll accessible to voters with disabilities and with enough paper ballots for absentee voting, provisional voting, and machine malfunction only.
A reference to a county as a “paper ballot county” means that the county has chosen by resolution of its quorum court to conduct elections using paper ballots whether counted by hand or by an electronic vote tabulating device at each poll or at a central counting location in combination with at least one (1) voting machine per poll accessible to voter with disabilities. [A.C.A. §§ 7-5-301, 7-5-503, 7-5-606]