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Arkansas focuses on registering veterans for voting as deadline nears

The first voter registration deadline is Monday, April 25 for the primary election on Tuesday, May 24. That's why there are efforts to get people registered.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It's election season in Arkansas, which means the voter registration deadline is getting closer.

You have to be registered 30 days before the election if you want to vote and the state's first primary is Tuesday, May 24, so you still have time. 

While that deadline is approaching the Secretary of State's Office is trying to get more people headed to the polls.

It's busy season for Suite 256 at the Arkansas State Capitol. As Secretary of State, John Thurston, is in charge of everything elections from voting systems to records to registration.

"We have around 1.75 million people here in Arkansas that are registered," he said.

For Thurston, that's a number he believes is trending up, but he always wants more.

"We do, historically, have low voter registration compared to some of the other states and so that's why it's important to have these voter registration drives," he said.

Voter registration drives like the one on Tuesday at the veterans hospital in North Little Rock.

It's a new initiative for Arkansas that other states have done according to Thurston to get local veterans to the polls, but also anyone can dedicate their vote in honor of a veteran.

"Not only do we want to honor veterans with our vote. This is a bold statement, but if you don't vote, you dishonor our veterans because they have paid the ultimate price," he said.

No one knows about paying the ultimate sacrifice like members of "We are the 22," which is a direct suicide prevention group that helps veterans in crisis. 

Director of Personnel Tanya Fischer said the non-profit is partnered with the Secretary of State's office on the veteran voter registration initiative.

"It's important for them to be able to exercise their right to vote and vote on the platforms that are important to them, like more funding for the VA hospitals or things like that," she said.

The organization's name came from the amount of veterans a day who commit suicide, a problem Fischer said voters could weigh in on by casting a ballot.

"A lot of the reasons veterans end up in suicidal crisis is just because there aren't programs or funding for some of the things they need, or they don't know how to get to them, and we want to help help with that," she said.

Mark your calendars, the first voter registration deadline is coming up soon, it's actually Monday, April 25, for the primary election set for Tuesday, May 24. 

You can find a voter registration form here and you can vote in honor of a veteran here.

The next voter registration drive is on Thursday, April 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock. 

There's also one on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Military Museum in Jacksonville.

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