More than 140,000 in Arkansas have voted this week, making this year's Nov. 8 general election roughly similar to early vote totals at the same point in the last midterm election in 2018.
Slightly more than 140,000 Arkansans cast early votes in the first four days of early voting based on information from 68 of the state's 75 counties, the secretary of state's office reported Friday morning. Information on the number of early voters in the first five days of early voting won't be available through that office until Monday.
Nearly 153,500 Arkansans cast voters during the first four days of early voting in the 2018 general election, said Kevin Niehaus, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State John Thurston.
Thurston's office projects that 916,674, or about 51% of the state's 1.79 million registered voters, will cast ballots in the Nov. 8 general election. In the 2018 general election, 852,642 of 1.69 million registered voters cast ballots.
For the general election, early voting runs between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, according to the secretary of state's office.
Early voting ends at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the Nov. 8 election.
The highest-profile statewide race pits Republican nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Democratic nominee Chris Jones and Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. against each other for a four-year term as governor.
The winner of the governor's race will succeed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is barred from seeking reelection by the state's term limits amendment.
Proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot also are drawing interest from voters.
In the general election, voters will decide the fate of proposed constitutional amendments that would legalize recreational marijuana and allow the Legislature to call itself into special session. They also will vote on proposed constitutional amendments to require 60% of voters rather than a majority of them to vote for approval of a proposed constitutional amendment or proposed initiated act, and to bar the government from burdening a person's freedom of religion unless the government can demonstrate that doing so furthers a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
In the general election, voters will decide who wins the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican John Boozman, four congressional seats, an Arkansas Supreme Court seat held by Robin Wynne, and the state's six other constitutional offices such as lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state. They'll vote to fill 100 state House of Representatives seats and 35 state Senate seats, and various local government offices, including county and city offices.
The Pulaski County Election Commission reported Friday night that 29,180 voters cast votes during the first five days of early voting. That compares with 28,233 voters in the first five days of early voting in the 2018 general election, said Amanda Dickens, election coordinator for the Pulaski County Election Commission.
"I think my prediction on turnout is going to be pretty close. if it keeps up," she said.
Dickens has projected that about 55% of the county's 240,000 registered voters will cast ballots in the general election -- the same percentage of registered voters who cast ballots in the county in the last midterm election in 2018.
The highest-profile local race in Pulaski County is the race in which Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott is trying to survive challenges from Steve Landers Sr., Greg Henderson and Glenn Schwarz for a four-year term as mayor.
In Benton County, 21,057 voters cast ballots in the first five days of early voting this year, according to the Benton County clerk's Facebook page. That's up from the 19,754 voters in the same period in the general election in 2018, according to Benton County Election Administrator Dana Caler.
During the first five days of early voting, 14,878 voters in Washington County voted, Washington County Elections Director Jennifer Price reported Friday night. That's up slightly from 14,029 voters who cast ballots in the same period in the 2018 general election.
"Everything has been going smoothly," she said.
"We have been steady at all of our locations, and the numbers are matching what we saw in 2018, which is what we were expecting," Price said. "Next week always picks up, as well."
In Saline County, 11,001 voted during the first five days of early voting, compared with 12,353 in the same period in the 2018 general election, according to Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis's website.
In Faulkner County, 10,398 voters cast ballots during the first five days of early voting, according to the Faulkner County Commission's Facebook page. That's down from 11,116 voters in the same period in the 2018 general election.
In Craighead County, 5,945 voters cast ballots during the first five days of early voting in this year's general election, compared with 4,697 voters in the same period in the 2018 general election, according to Jennifer Clack, election coordinator for the county.
"We have a very contested local issue that I think is bringing people out," she said. "But from what I hear in other counties and states, it's busier across the board."
Voters in Craighead County are deciding the fate of an initiative to decrease the current 2.0 mill tax for the Craighead County Jonesboro Library System to 1.0 mill.
Meanwhile, the state Board of Election Commissioners decided Friday to send election monitors to Lee and Phillips counties in response to a request for election monitors, said board Director Daniel Shults.
Election monitors will be sent to Lee and Phillips counties to monitor the counting of ballots on Monday and on election day, he said.
"Additional monitoring is authorized by the board if our observations on Monday indicate it is necessary," Shults said.
Martin Rawls, chairman of the Phillips County Republican Committee, requested the election monitoring in Phillips County and state Senate candidate Terry Fuller requested the election monitor in Lee County, according to board records.
Fuller, a Poplar Grove Republican, is vying with state Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, for the Senate District 9 seat.