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Today's the day everyone's prognostications go out the window and the only votes that count are the ones at the ballot box.

Don't forget to take your identification card to the polling place today, just in case someone decides you might have just arrived as part of a Central American caravan in a coordinated attack on the U.S. election system. Never fear: The Legislature has saved the state from such shenanigans. It's the law in Arkansas that photo IDs are required before a vote can be cast. The Legislature has gone a step further, too. Issue No. 2 on today's ballot is a constitutional amendment to solidify the requirement. It's hugely popular and will probably be adopted, even though nobody has demonstrated any level of corruption or manipulation that photo identification cards will stop. But like receiving a gift, it's the thought that counts, right?

What’s the point?

Today we offer a refresher on our thoughts for General Election 2018. Take them into account or don’t, but go vote before 7:30 p.m. today.

So, jump through that hoop and you'll be ready to vote at voting centers or polling places around the region.

Who will win? It's a real gamble to guess, but Arkansans may have to get used to more gambling in the state if they approve Issue 4. That's the latest version of a casino amendment, the kind casino advocates have pushed and pushed over the years, slowly eroding resistance within the electorate. Will this be the time? If so, the state will see development of four full-fledged casinos -- one at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs; one at Southland Racing and Gaming in West Memphis; and two entirely new gambling operations in or near Pine Bluff and Russellville.

The latest mantra of the casino backers is that Arkansans need to stop the flow of gambling money to out-of-state casinos, such as those in Oklahoma, Mississippi or Missouri. So under this amendment, the voters can allow the operation of four Arkansas-based casinos through which ... money will flow to out-of-state owners. Yes, the casinos will pay some taxes, but it won't be enough to make a big difference in state government. Arkansas will, however, gain a Department of Human Services-run effort to deal with compulsive gambling disorder educational programs, so there's that, um, benefit.

Maybe, just maybe, there will be people ready to bet their disposable income made possible by the third issue on the ballot. Numerically, it's Issue No. 5, and it would gradually increase the state's minimum wage, which is now $8.50. It would grow to $9.25 per hour in 2019, $10 per hour in 2020 and finally, $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2021.

Everyone loves to make more money, but an increased wage will in all likelihood force minimum wage-paying employers to factor the added costs into their staffing decisions. Higher costs sometimes means fewer hires. So is the state making headway on wages if fewer people are hired at those higher wages? Count us skeptical.

Today is indeed Election Day, when we find out results, but there are 12 hours of polling left to take place between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Benton County had collected ballots from 42,906 people by the close of voting on Saturday. Washington County had gotten 31,640 ballots. Final early voting happened Monday, with lines running out the doors of county clerks' offices.

Last month, we offered endorsements in key races, including our backing of Asa Hutchinson for re-election as Arkansas' governor.

In state House of Representative races we recommended Charlene Fite in District 80; Bruce Coleman in District 81; Denise Garner in District 84; Robin Lundstrum in District 87; Jeff Williams in District 89; Jana Della Rosa in District 90; Gayla Hendren McKenzie in District 92; Gayatri Jane Agnew in District 93; Jenè Huffman-Gilreath in District 94; Celeste Williams in District 95; Grant Hodges in District 96; and Gary Morris in District 97.

In the contests for state Senate, we suggested voters back Cecille Bledsoe in District 3 and Greg Leding in District 4.

Our county judge recommendations went to Joseph Wood in Washington County and Barry Moehring in Benton County.

In the five-person field for mayor in Bentonville, we recommend John Skaggs.

In Fayetteville, our nods for City Council went to Sonia Gutierrez in Ward 1; Mark Kinion in Ward 2; and Sloan Scroggin in Ward 3.

In Bentonville, voters should strongly consider Tim Robinson in Ward 1; Sam Whiteside in Ward 2; and Jonathan Terlouw in Ward 4.

In Rogers, the recommendations for City Council in the crowded Ward 1 field was for Mandy McDonald Brashears.

In Springdale, we suggest Mike Overton in Ward 2; Rick Culver in Ward 3; and Mike Lawson in Ward 4.

Now, it's your turn, voters. It's your ballot. No million-dollar spending PAC controls it. No mysterious special interest group placing ads controls it. No president or ex-president controls it. It's yours. Exercise it with care and vigor. Then, when all the counting is done, make sure the people who get elected get a deserved congratulations, then watch them like a hawk to see if their actions in public office will deserve your support next time around.

What's decided today in terms of candidates is good for one term. It's the job of us citizens to keep an eye on what's happening with our representatives between elections so that, come next election, they can be lauded for a job well done or replaced with someone who has the potential to do better.

Commentary on 11/06/2018

Print Headline: It's Election Day

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