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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Tuesday deadline to register as absentee voter in Benton County

Typically, you have to have a serious reason for getting an absentee ballot but with the COVID-19 virus, officials are allowing anyone to get one.

BENTONVILLE, Ark — Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Benton County is still holding the runoff election for GOP State District 90 race.

The deadline for Benton County voters to apply for an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday (March 24).

Typically, you have to have a serious reason for getting an absentee ballot but with the COVID-19 virus, officials are allowing anyone to get one.

“It’s really important people know that this runoff is still happening amid this coronavirus outbreak which we know is really confusing because the government and the CDC and health department are saying social distancing is very important and we at Benton County are practicing that,” said Benton County Communication Director Channing Barker. 

Barker says they are encouraging people to vote early this week at one of there three early voting locations to keep the number of people at the polling site on election day down.

“Our poll workers are going to have masks and gloves on to make sure they can stay as clean as possible and we’ll also have our folks wiping down the machines as much as we can and we’ll only be allowing one person in at a time to vote,” Barker said.

Benton County voters will be casting their ballots for House District 90 and 91. Delia Haak and Scott Richardson are vying for District 91 and Representative Jana Della Rose and Kendon Underwood for District 90.

5NEWS reached out to Underwood for comment but was not successful. 

Representative Della Rosa says social distancing has completely changed her campaign.

“Normally you campaign by knocking on doors and shaking people’s hands and meeting people in person and answering people’s questions and getting to know people. Now, that is all cut off,” Della Rosa said.

She says now campaigning is sending out mail, using social media, emails and phone calls. She helped get the information out that unlike most elections, anyone could absentee vote in this runoff because of the coronavirus.

Voter turnout in a runoff is usually low in normal circumstances, and now she says she knows a lot of people won't be able to go because of the virus.

“That makes the runoff much more difficult because you are going to want as many people as possible to have a voice in it and at this point in time it’s going to be more of a matter of the voices of the people that can get out versus those who can’t, but it’s a situation there is nothing we can do to fix,” Della Rosa said.

The County Clerk's office said it received more than 1,000 applications, which is more than double the number it received for the primary election.

Early voting sites include:

  • Benton County Clerk’s Office – Bentonville 215 E Central Ave., Ste. 217, Bentonville AR 72712 
  • Benton County Clerk’s Office – Rogers 2111 W. Walnut, Rogers AR 72756
  • Benton County Clerk’s Office – Siloam Springs 707 S. Lincoln, Siloam Springs AR 72761 

March 24 – March 27, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. March 30 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Click here for more information on how you can register as an absentee voter.

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