By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
As throughout Arkansas on Monday and today, Hempstead County was seeing heavy traffic in the first days of early voting; approximately 195 total persons have cast ballots as of Tuesday afternoon. Approximately 112 of the current 195 total had showed up the first day on Monday.
Voters were greeted Monday morning by brand new voting machines with quick interactive touch screens, a paper receipt ballot at the end, and a new interactive bin for the completed ballots.
Even at the voters check-in table, there were brand new computer touch screens, and verification tools; none of the traditional “big books” of names were to be seen.
Of course, these were the results of over $200,000 in voting machine upgrades countywide to be in compliance with state voting standards.
Hempstead County voters, like those throughout the state, are seeing ballot screens Monday that feature the statewide races for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Land Commissioner among others, the Fourth Congressional seat in the US Congress, and five ballot questions. Issue One: Tort Reform appears on the screen, even as it was thrown out last Thursday. The four other ballot issues are there, including Issue Two dealing with Voter ID, while Issue Three on Term Limits, Issue Four for limited casino gambling, and Issue Five to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas incrementally over the next two years.
The biggest race locally is for Hempstead County Judge, where Republican Jerry Crane and Democrat Allen Flowers are on the ballot. The winner will assume office in January 2019.
The Hempstead County Coroner appears on the ballot, but Democrat Scott Brown had already previously announced his departure from the race.
In City of Hope Board of Director Elections, there are two city wards that see contests, which will not appear on ballots outside those wards. In Hope Ward 6, incumbent Steve Montgomery, the current Mayor and owner of several McDonald’s restaurants in southwest Arkansas, appears on the Ward 6 ballot with challenger Carla Bryant, a SAU professor and land owner.
In Hope Ward 7, incumbent Don Still, the current vice-mayor and automobile shop owner, appears on the ballot with challenger Peter Maggio, the Spring Hill principal.