5 things to know about Tuesday's runoff
Posted: June 10, 2014 at 7:05 a.m.
Five things to know about Tuesday's primary election runoff in Arkansas:
1. LOW TURNOUT EXPECTED, AND THEN SOME
Arkansas' secretary of state's office, which administers statewide elections, says fewer than 5 percent of the state's registered voters are expected to cast ballots in Tuesday's primary runoff — about 71,200 out of 1.6 million. Turnout for the May 20 primary was 21 percent.
Turnout typically falls between the primary and the runoff, and that creates the prospect of an exceptionally low turnout in eastern Arkansas, where the GOP has a minimal presence. Of the 10 Arkansas counties were Republicans made up 10 percent or fewer of the total number of voters in the gubernatorial primaries last month, seven were in the Arkansas Delta.
Lee, Woodruff and Chicot each had fewer than 100 GOP voters on May 20. Twenty-two counties had fewer than 400 voters.
2. JOIN A QUEUE
Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for Arkansas' primary runoff. Anyone in line when polls close at 7:30 p.m. will be given an opportunity to vote.
And, as was the case in the primary, voters must show a state or federal identification card to receive a ballot or they will be given provisional ones. State IDs include driver's licenses or ID cards that don't include driving privileges. Federal IDs include passports. Poll workers have turned away voters who have showed up with county-issued employment IDs.
3. LEGISLATIVE RACES
The GOP runoff for attorney general has dominated television airwaves for the past three weeks, but two legislative seats will be decided in Tuesday's runoff, too. Because there is no member of the opposite party on the ballot in November, Tuesday's winners will be seated in January.
Democrats have already locked up a House seat in Pine Bluff, but still must decide who will represent District 16 in Little Rock next year: Ken Ferguson or Win Trafford.
Republicans will hold District 17 in the state Senate. Current Rep. John Burris of Harrison faces Scott Flippo of Mountain Home.
4. PRIVATE OPTION
The race for a north Arkansas Senate seat focuses attention again on the state's plan to use federal money to purchase private health insurance for its poorer residents. The "private option" plan was developed to put a state spin on an expansion of Medicaid under the nation's new health-care law.
Burris, a chief architect of the "private option," was forced into a runoff by Flippo, who opposes the private option. Private-option opponents say the Burris-Flippo race could go a long way in determining whether the plan can continue beyond the forthcoming fiscal year. It narrowly passed in this year's legislative session.
In May, private option supporter Sen. Bruce Holland lost to state Rep. Terry Rice, who opposed the compromise expansion. Another state senator turned back a challenge last month, and Rep. Andrea Lea won the GOP's nomination for auditor despite being criticized for favoring the private option.
5. RUTLEDGE QUEST
Leslie Rutledge, a former lawyer for ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee who nearly won the GOP nomination for attorney general outright during the May 20 primary, is seeking to become the state's first female attorney general. Her runoff opponent is David Sterling, a lawyer in private practice at North Little Rock.
The winner faces Democrat Nate Steel and Libertarian Aaron Cash in the fall.
Rutledge and Sterling each say they want to fight what they call an overbearing federal government. Sterling wants to bring back the electric chair while challenges to Arkansas' lethal injection procedures are tied up in the courts. Rutledge opposes that.
Arkansas hasn't had an execution since 2005, when Huckabee was governor. If Gov. Mike Beebe completes his term without having a death warrant carried out, he would be the first governor since Gov. Frank White, who served from 1981-83, to do so.
Since the Supreme Court reauthorized executions in 1976, Arkansas has had 27 executions, all since 1990.