Oct 25, 2022 - Politics

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Northwest Arkansas

Illustration of a white podium changing into a voting booth and then changing into three campaign signs, over a divided red and blue background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election Day is Nov. 8. Get ready to cast your ballot with this rundown of how to register, where to vote and what to expect in NWA.

Why it matters: Elected officials in Arkansas control and implement the state's $6 billion budget. They will manage the state's revenue surplus and statewide economic opportunity, along with poor health statistics, low education scores and climbing crime rates.

Voting in the 2022 midterm elections

Key dates:

What to expect: Northwest Arkansas voters' ballots will differ depending on where they live, as mayoral, city council, General Assembly and congressional races are on the ballot.

Absentee ballots: If you're voting by mail, your ballot must be received by your county clerk's office by 7:30pm on Nov. 8.

  • Of note: If you're submitting the ballot in person, you must have it delivered to your county clerk's office before the close of business on Nov. 4. This is a change from previous elections.
  • See the Arkansas secretary of state's website for exceptions for authorized agents.

On Election Day: Polls will be open 7:30am–7:30pm. Find your polling place.

  • An election official will ask your name, address and date of birth.
  • Arkansas voters are asked to show identification.
  • If you registered by mail after Jan. 1, 2003 and did not submit the required ID with your application, you may be required to show ID to vote a regular ballot.
  • If you don't present the necessary ID, an election official will instruct you on voting with a provisional ballot.

We've broken down many of the races and ballot questions of interest to Northwest Arkansas.

State races

Photo illustration of Chris Jones, tinted blue, Ricky Dale Harrington, tinted yellow, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, tinted red, separated by white halftone dividers.
Photo illustration of Chris Jones, left, Ricky Dale Harrington and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Arkansas governor: Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. (L) vs. Chris Jones (D) vs. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R).

Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. and Democrat Chris Jones will face off against Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the gubernatorial race. Arkansas' incumbent governor, Asa Hutchinson, term-limits out of office at the end of 2022.

Catch up quick: None of the three candidates have served in elected office.

  • Harrington is a pastor and once served as chaplain at the Cummins prison unit. He's president of the Libertarian Policy Institute's board of directors.
  • Democrat Jones is a Baptist minister and MIT-educated nuclear engineer, who once led the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs.

Sanders, who served as White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019 and was endorsed by former President Trump in 2021, is the frontrunner.

  • An Associated Press analysis indicates she has echoed Trump's rhetoric about the 2020 presidential election results.
  • In an email to Axios, she didn't directly address the question, saying, "Joe Biden is president, but America would be a lot better off if he wasn’t."
  • Sanders said she would fight to protect the integrity of the state's elections and that she would accept the results of the 2022 election in Arkansas.

Both Jones and Sanders have been vocal about making education a priority if they win.

Of note: Other third-party candidates in the race are:

  • Write-in: Elvis Presley.
  • Write-in: Dan Nelson.
  • Write-in: Jason Tate.

Go deeper:

Photo illustration of Kelly Krout, Leslie Rutledge, and Frank Gilbert.
Kelly Krout, Leslie Rutledge and Frank Gilbert. Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Lieutenant governor: Frank Gilbert (L) vs. Kelly Krout (D) vs. Leslie Rutledge (R).

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (R) is running for attorney general, and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is looking to fill his seat. She's running against Libertarian Frank Gilbert and Democrat Kelly Krout.

Why it matters: The lieutenant governor is a tie-breaker in the 35-member state Senate, which they preside over, and serves as governor if the state's chief executive is impeached, removed or dies.

Catch up quick: Gilbert blames divisiveness among political parties for low voter turnout. He once joined the Oath Keepers, which he called "a good organization," but is no longer a member.

  • Krout is a licensed social worker and has said a priority if elected would be advocating for a change to state law to allow for abortions in cases of rape or incest. She opposes Issue 2, which would require 60% of voters to approve a constitutional amendment, rather than the current simple majority.

Rutledge, the AG for the past eight years, has faced complaints about public service announcements paid for by the state while she was running for governor. And a recent allegation she advanced unfounded claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent came in the form of a lawsuit.

  • She removed her name, image and voice from the ads before abandoning the governor's bid and pursuing the lieutenant governor's post. She has said that President Biden was elected president.

Both Gilbert and Rutledge favor eliminating the state's personal income tax.

Go deeper: Watch the debate between Gilbert, Krout and Rutledge.

Photo illustration of Jesse Gibson and Tim Griffin.
Jesse Gibson and Tim Griffin. Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Attorney general: Jesse Gibson (D) vs. Tim Griffin (R).

Democrat Jesse Gibson is running against current Lt. Gov. Griffin.

Catch up quick: Griffin served as the U.S. representative for Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District from 2011-15. He's been a no-nonsense presider over the state Senate since 2014.

  • His priority if elected would be to reform the state's criminal justice system, and he advocates for stricter parole guidelines.
  • Gibson said he wants to remove politics from the AG's position, pointing a finger at the controversy related to Rutledge's spending of state funds on PSAs.
  • The Democrat wants to lower the prison system's recidivism rate to reduce overcrowding.

Griffin, who is anti-abortion rights, supports exceptions for incest and rape, which aren't part of Arkansas' current law. Gibson believes the decision of Roe v. Wade was decided correctly in 1973 and its overturning in June may have set a bad precedent with legal arguments that could be used to overturn same-sex marriage laws.

Of note: Like Rutledge, Griffin initially announced his candidacy for governor, but switched to a bid for AG after Sanders announced her run for the top office.

Go deeper: Watch the debate between Gibson and Griffin.

Photo illustration of Anna Beth Gorman and John Thurston.
Anna Beth Gorman and John Thurston. Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Secretary of state: Anna Beth Gorman (D) vs. John Thurston (R).

Anna Beth Gorman, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent John Thurston for the secretary of state post. Thurston has held the position since 2019.

Why it matters: The office maintains voter records and assists county officials with federal, state and local elections, ensuring they're fair and accurate.

Catch up quick: Thurston claims the 2020 election in Arkansas was perhaps "the safest and most secure" in the country.

  • Gorman, executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, would push the office to advocate for voter registration targeting overlooked communities.
  • Thurston cautioned that there's a fine line for elected officials in targeting groups or communities with advocacy because the office serves all citizens of the state.

Of note: Arkansas' voter turnout is generally less than 50%, and is even lower in primary and midterm elections, though more than 1.2 million voted in 2020. The state ranks low for voting access and enacted four additional restrictions last year.

Go deeper: Watch the debate between Gorman and Thurston.

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Local races

Of note: See a full list of local races for Benton and Washington counties. You can vote in your city’s council races regardless of ward. Councilmembers must live in the wards they represent.

Bella Vista mayor: Local business owner Randy Murray and City Councilmembers Steven Bourke and John Flynn are competing in a three-way race for mayor. Read our coverage.

Centerton mayor: Mayor Bill Edwards is seeking re-election. He has four challengers: Mike Blakeman, Michael Commet, Wendy Henson and Lance Johnson. Read our coverage.

Lowell mayor: Mayor Chris Moore and retired public works city employee Rodney Judy are in the running. Read our coverage.

Farmington mayor: Mayor Ernie Penn, City Councilmember Diane Bryant and Jerrod Fraley, who works in retail executive supply chain and visual merchandising, will be on the ballot. Read our coverage.

Fayetteville City Council — two seats: Voters will choose between incumbent Mark Kinion and Sarah Moore to represent Ward 2 and incumbent Sloan Scroggin and Scott Berna to represent Ward 3. Read our coverage.

Bentonville City Council — four seats: A biking nonprofit director Allyson de la Houssaye and real estate agent Beckie Seba are up for Ward 1.

  • Incumbent Cindy Acree faces challenger Sam’s Club merchant Ragan Hensley for Ward 2. Read our coverage on Wards 1 and 2.
  • Incumbent Aubrey Patterson faces challenger Tyler Masters, the Equality Crew president, for Ward 3.
  • Incumbent Octavio Sanchez and Tom Hoehn, executive vice president of digital and social at 4Media Group, are up for Ward 4. Read our coverage on Wards 3 and 4.

Rogers City Council — two seats: Four people are in the running to represent Ward 3, including incumbent Clay Kendall, corporate financial reporting manager at America's Car-Mart Vonnice Boone, senior national account manager at food manufacturer Mars Rachel Crawford and real estate broker Trey Weaver. Read our coverage.

  • Incumbent Barney Hayes and University of Arkansas student Richard Labit are running for Ward 4. Read our coverage.

Springdale City Council — two seats: Four people are competing to represent Ward 3, including incumbent Brian Powell, Rodeo of the Ozarks director Rick Culver, Bank of America banker Alice Gachuzo-Colin and cybersecurity business owner Mike Stevens. Read our Ward 3 coverage.

  • Incumbent Amelia Taldo-Williams faces challenger Spencer Ordonez, art director at marketing agency Advantage Solutions, for the Ward 4 seat. Read our Ward 4 coverage.

Local ballot questions

  • Benton County jail expansion — Residents can vote to allow the county to issue $167 million in bonds, plus a 0.125% sales and use tax. Voters can also choose whether the county will implement a 0.25% sales and use tax that would be used in part to repay the bonds. The county wants to add beds, health care facilities and a new sheriff's office.
  • Washington County jail expansion — Voters will decide if the county can issue $113.5 million in bonds to expand the county jail and $28.5 million in bonds to expand the juvenile court facility. Voters will also decide whether to approve a 0.25% sales and use tax to repay the bonds.
  • Rogers and Bentonville residents will vote separately on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in each of the cities. See our coverage of the state's alcohol laws.
  • Siloam Springs residents will decide on an ordinance to keep the current split of the city's permanent one-cent sales tax — 40% streets, 20% police, 20% fire and 20% city general fund. If the ordinance fails, the split will be 80% streets and 20% general fund.
  • Decatur will decide on a 1% sales and use tax to help pay for the fire and police departments, street and drainage projects and city parks and recreational facilities.

State ballot questions

Illustration of a voting pin surrounded by election form icons
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Issue 1 would give state senators and representatives the ability to call a special legislative session and set the agenda if the speaker of the House and president of the Senate (lieutenant governor) agree to convene lawmakers, or if two-thirds of the House and Senate sign a proclamation.

  • Currently, only the governor can call a special session and set its agenda.
  • Read the full amendment. Additional Q&A on Issue 1 from U of A Cooperative Extension Service.

Issue 2 would change the Arkansas Constitution to require 60% of ballots cast to pass most future ballot issues.

Issue 3 would prohibit state and local governments from burdening a person's practice of religion in Arkansas unless the government shows there’s a compelling reason to do so and acts in the least restrictive way.

  • It also provides a way for a person to seek relief against the government if it imposes on their religious freedom.
  • Currently, the law prevents the government from "substantial" burdens, so the proposed law is stricter to the government and provides more freedom to individuals.
  • Read the full amendment. Additional Q&A on Issue 3 from U of A Cooperative Extension Service.

Issue 4 would legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce, use and consumption of marijuana by residents ages 21 and older for non-medical reasons, as well as to authorize the regulated cultivation and sale by licensed commercial facilities.

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