HOT SPRINGS -- The 14,204 voters who cast ballots in the May 24 elections represented the county's biggest turnout for primaries in a year without a presidential election in more than a decade.
It was the strongest participation since the 18,444 voters who went to the polls in May 2010. Of the 63,880 voters registered for this May's elections, 22% turned out.
Garland County Election Commission Chairman/Election Coordinator Gene Haley said new registration cards the county clerk's office mailed before the elections may have helped. They were sent as part of the decennial redistricting process, letting voters know if their precincts had changed.
"I think that had more to do with it than anything else," Haley said Friday, after the commission certified last month's election results. "We have a lot of people who only knew about the election because of all the ads on TV and seeing all the signs out. The fact they got something in the mail that reminded them to vote probably helped."
Fifty-seven percent of the vote came during the 13 days of early voting, marking the fifth straight state or federal election with a bigger early turnout than election day turnout.
The total the commission certified Friday included nine provisional ballots. Six of the 21 from early voting and election day were counted. Two people who didn't show photo IDs at the polls failed to present them before Tuesday's deadline. Haley said people who weren't registered in Garland County cast the other uncounted provisional ballots.
Two of the 17 provisional ballots from absentee voting were counted, as was the overseas ballot the county received Thursday from Saudi Arabia. Federal law gives voters registered in the United States but living overseas 10 days to return their ballots. Haley said two overseas ballots were outstanding as of Friday morning.
The state will reimburse the county for most of its expenses from last month's elections. Haley said he expected about an $80,000 reimbursement.
Early voting in the June 21 runoff for the District 7 justice of the peace Republican nomination starts June 14. Incumbent John Paul Faulkner and real estate broker Dayton Myers emerged from the three-man field, with Faulkner's 493 votes falling about 40 short of the majority share. Myers won 385 votes.
The winner will represent the southeast part of the county on the Garland County Quorum Court, the county's legislative and budgeting authority.
Early voting will be held at the Election Commission Building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 14-17 and June 20. Election day voters can choose from vote centers at Red Oak Baptist Church or Uptown Hot Springs. Those who voted in the Democratic Party primary are ineligible.