We should work to expand the Absentee Vote in Arkansas where everyone will have a safe way to vote in November in times of uncertainity caused by the Coronavirus.
Arkansas is one of 17 states that require a reason for requesting a ballot and individuals have to request a ballot to be sent to them. There are two things that need to happen sooner than later in order to guarantee that everyone will have a choice for voting in November. Remember "An ounce of prevention/preparation is worth a pound of cure".
The Governor has the authority to remove the required reason of being away from the polling place on election day by Executive Order.
The Secretary of State has the authority to automatically mail absentee applications to all registered voter and can pay for the postage with part of the 4.5 million dollars he received from the CARES Act for elections in 2020. Then voters can decide whether to go to the polls to vote or vote absentee and request a ballot be mailed to them.
The Health experts continue to warn us that another wave of COVID-19 will hit in the fall, therefore we don't know at this time whether it will be safe to be in crowds at polling places.
These decisions need to be made now so that County Election officials can make the necessary preparations for expanded Absentee Voting. They will need additional staff to certify the voter is who they say they are from the signatures on the application prior to a ballot being mailed to the individual. Then additional personnel to count the potential increased number of paper ballots. Applications will need to be printed and distributed and additional ballots will need to be printed as well.
Arkansas should be preparing now in order to guarantee voter access to everyone in November regardless of what the conditions might be at that time.
Wisconsin was forced to hold their primary "in person" during the height of their pandemic in that state and 52 voters and poll workers from Milwaulkee tested positive for Covid-19 following the election. There is no reason for Arkansas voters to be in a similar situation if we act now. Call Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston and ask them to do the two items outlined above within their authority in order for Arkansas to have a safe and accessible election in November for all of its citizens.
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Grant County Democrats meet Quarterly the 3rd Sunday of each month for a business session at 2 p.m. in the City Hall Democrats also meet the 2nd Monday of each month at noon for a lunch and learn session. Meeting location is El Parian Mexican Restaurant
Address for restaurant:
El Parian Restaurant
1211 North Rock Street
Sheridan, Arkansas 72150