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Arkansas Voter's Guide: How votes are tallied during the general election

Local election officials explain how ballots are collected, counted, and recorded during the general election.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — We are almost two months away from the general election on November 3rd. Record numbers of absentee voting are expected this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When a registered voter casts their ballot in-person, it goes into a machine that is tested extensively before election day. A device inside the machine is read by a computer that calculates the results.

A system of checks and balances is used to make sure everything is working.

"We keep track of every voter that signs in at the polling location both electronically and a written record, and then we match that number to the number on the ballot box comes in to make sure those numbers match," Jennifer Price, Director of Elections Washington County.

Absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to the county clerk's office up until the day before the election or sent in the mail.

"It's then recorded that it's been returned to the county clerk's office and from there the county clerk turns them over the election commission for the election commission to compare signatures and make sure that those are valid," Kim Dennison, Election Coordinator for Benton County.

If you are planning to vote absentee, you must fill out the voter statement that comes with your absentee ballot application.

"That voter statement is absolutely the most critical part because if something is missing on that, then we will not be able to count your ballot, and there isn't a recourse for you," Price said.

If for some reason, you decide not to use your absentee ballot and instead go to a polling location, you will be given a provisional ballot.

"You're not going to be able to vote a regular ballot on election day. That way, we can make sure we didn't receive your absentee ballot back before your provisional ballot gets counted," Dennison said.

Election officials promise every vote does count.

If your absentee ballot can not be verified because there's information missing on your voter statement, the Washington County election commission will send you a letter in the mail explaining what happened.

RELATED: Arkansas Voter's Guide 2020: Registering to vote & requesting an absentee ballot

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