Apr 20, 2022 - Politics

Your guide to Arkansas' primary election

Arkansas voter turnout
Data: Arkansas Secretary of State; Chart: Axios Visuals

Since Northwest Arkansas is gaining an estimated 30 people per day, we're providing some insight into Arkansas' election rules — and a refresher for those who've been here a while.

What's happening: The Arkansas primary election to select nominees for the November general election is May 24, with early voting beginning on May 9.

Why it matters: Primaries typically have low voter turnout, but voting in every election is the best way to make sure your voice is heard on issues you care about.

On the ballot: Candidates for U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

  • State-level races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, commissioner of lands and the Arkansas Supreme Court.
  • Various county offices.
  • All 100 state representative seats and all 35 senate seats.

The intrigue: The entire senate is up for a vote due to redistricting following the U.S. census. Normally only half of the senate seats would be on the ballot.

Catch up quick: Arkansas has an open primary, meaning registered voters can choose to participate in either the Democrat or Republican primary, regardless of which party they're registered with.

  • Voters can search for information on candidates by their name or the county where they live.
  • A voter can choose a non-partisan ballot, but it only lists judicial or prosecuting attorney candidates and special issues.

But, but, but: If there is a primary runoff, a voter will only be permitted to vote for the same party they voted for in the primary, Daniel Shults, director of the state board of election commissioners, tells Axios.

By the numbers: In 2020, there were 1.8 million registered voters out of just more than 3 million Arkansans. The population number includes those too young to vote.

  • Over the past decade, between 20% and 40% of registered voters turned out for primary elections.
  • Between 50% and 67% of registered voters typically turn out for general elections.

Of note: The Arkansas Supreme Court recently upheld four voting laws enacted last year that have been subjects of lawsuits.

Have questions about elections in Arkansas? Email and tell us what you want to know.


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