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Arkansas Secretary of State releases statement on absentee voting

To receive an absentee ballot, you need to request to have an absentee ballot application sent to you by contacting your County Clerk
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston released the following statement regarding absentee voting in the state.

"As Secretary of State and Chief Election Officer for the State of Arkansas, I have been receiving many questions and have listened to the many concerns of the citizens of Arkansas as to the upcoming November election. We are fortunate in Arkansas that we have in place the means by which registered voters may request an absentee ballot. According to Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-5-402 and 7-5-404, a voter may request an absentee ballot due to one of the following reasons:• You will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on Election Day, OR

• You will be unable to attend your polling site on election day due to illness or physical disability, OR
• You are a member of the Uniformed Services, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependent family member and are away from your polling location due to the member’s active duty status, OR
• A U.S. citizen whose residence is in Arkansas but is temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States.

Those provisions, as provided by state law, allow the voters of the state to contact their local County Clerk, and request an absentee ballot for one of the stated reasons. I understand many of our citizens may be assisting loved ones or are fearful of exposing a vulnerable family member to the virus. I understand that many are fearful of contacting or passing along the virus to others in the community. While my office continues to work with county officials to prepare polling locations, we are also anticipating and preparing for an increase in Absentee Ballot requests due to the COVID-19 virus.It is my opinion and belief, that our current laws are sufficient to allow the registered voters of Arkansas the choice of going to their local polling location or requesting an absentee ballot from their local County Clerk. We are fortunate that our lawmakers had the foresight in crafting our election laws to allow for times of being unavoidably absent whether by natural disaster, war, or global pandemic."

Absentee Voting

To receive an absentee ballot, you need to request to have an absentee ballot application sent to you by contacting your County Clerk (click here) in the county where you are registered to vote. You may also download an absentee ballot application (click here).

To be qualified to vote an absentee ballot, you must meet one of the following criteria:
Note: On your application you may designate how you wish to receive your ballot: by picking it up in person, by mail, or bearer. UOCAVA voters have an additional delivery option for their absentee ballot (click here).
Please contact your Arkansas County Clerk with any questions about the absentee voting process. You can find your clerk here.

  • You will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on election day, OR
  • You will be unable to attend your polling site on election day due to illness or physical disability, OR
  • You are a member of the Uniformed Services, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependant family member and are away from your polling location due to the member’s active duty status, OR
  • A U.S. citizen whose residence is in Arkansas but is temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States.
  • In Person: by close of business the day BEFORE the election
  • By Designated Bearer or Administrator: by close of business the day BEFORE the election

    (Designated Bearer is anyone you choose to pick up or deliver your application or ballot)

  • By Mail or by Electronic Means: by 7 days before the election
  • By Authorized Agent: by 1:30 p.m. ON election day.

    The authorized agent must file with the County Clerk an affidavit from the administrative head of a hospital or nursing home located in this state verifying that the applicant is a patient of the hospital or long-term care or residential care facility licensed by the state and is thereby unable to vote on the election day at his or her regular polling site.

  • By Designated Bearers: no earlier than 15 days before a preferential primary election, general election, school election or special election and no earlier than 7 days before a runoff election.
  • By Anyone Else: no deadline specified in Arkansas law. You should base your ballot pick up on the ability to return it to the County Clerk on time.
  • In Person: by close of business the day BEFORE the election
  • By Designated Bearer: by 7:30 p.m. ON election day
  • By Mail: received at clerks office by 7:30 p.m. ON election day

    You may NOT fax or email a ballot. UOCAVA voters must vote their ballot by Election Day, and it must be received by their county clerk by 5 p.m. 10 days after the election.

  • By Authorized Agent: by 7:30 p.m. ON election day