October 28, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – When there is a race for president on the ballot, voter turnout in Arkansas goes up.
This year it looks as if voter turnout is going up even more than usual for a presidential election year, according to estimates by officials in the Secretary of State’s office. Based on turnout in past elections and in this year’s primary in March, election officials estimate that voter turnout will be about 70 percent.
Turnout of 70 percent would exceed the voter turnout for the past two presidential elections. In 2012 it was 66.65 percent and in 2008 it was 64.52 percent.
Those percentages are significantly higher than the past several election years when there has not been a presidential race on the ballot. In 2014 the turnout was 50.43, even though there was a hotly contested race for U.S. Senator on the ballot, as well as for governor and other constitutional officers.
In 2010 there were races for governor, the constitutional offices and U.S. Senate, but fewer than half of all registered voters in Arkansas went to the polls. Turnout that year was 47.61 percent.
The up-and-down trend has been consistent for the past 10 years. In 2006 turnout was only 47.96 and in 2004, with a race for president on the ballot, it was 62.62 percent.
There are 1,754,243 registered voters in Arkansas.
The Secretary of State’s elections division maintains election results after certifying the results and keeps records of campaign finance reports. The division helps local election officials comply with federal election laws and helps train poll workers to use electronic voting machines. It also keeps the journals of the Senate and the House of Representatives, in which are recorded the official actions of the legislature.
Besides keeping election results and campaign finance reports, the Secretary of State is a starting point for individuals and companies doing business in Arkansas. For example, corporations and partnerships, as well as numerous other types of business entities, must file with the Secretary of State.
A 2011 law now requires individuals who want to be agents for student athletes to register with the Secretary of State. The goal is to protect student athletes from unscrupulous agents.
The Secretary of State authenticates documents that are presented overseas. For example, such as when an Arkansas resident plans to work in a foreign country and needs a verified background check. The State Police will conduct the background check and the Secretary of State will authenticate it, much like a notary public does for documents used in domestic transactions.
The office also maintains the Capitol grounds and several state buildings on the campus of the Capitol. During the Christmas season it schedules school choirs to sing carols and perform holiday music in the Capitol rotunda.
The Secretary of State also is responsible for decorating the Capitol at Christmas and stringing lights over the building and the dome. Arkansas Children’s Hospital is directly across Interstate 630 from the Capitol, and the Christmas lights are popular with the young patients and their families.