Arkansas s Primary Election is March 1, 2016!

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1 Arkansas Voter Rights Guide 2016 This information is designed to help protect your own right to vote. Keep it handy, and take it with you to the polls when you vote. The Arkansas Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc. (ACLU) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the Constitution and our nation s civil rights laws. The ACLU does not endorse or oppose any candidate or party, but we believe that no civil right is more important in our democracy than the right to vote. We participate in the largest non-partisan, nonprofit election protection hotline in the United States OUR-VOTE / Arkansas will not have a primary election in May. Arkansas s Primary Election is March 1, 2016! Important deadlines: Feburary 1: Voter registration deadline for March 1 primary October 10: Voter registration deadline for the November general election If you are already registered, check your registration status before the registration deadline to prevent problems on Election Day. For questions or assistance with voting and elections: OUR-VOTE or

2 WHO CAN VOTE Can I vote in Arkansas? You can register if you meet all of the following qualifications: (1) you re a U.S. citizen; (2) you re an Arkansas resident; (3) you ll be at least 18 years old on Election Day; (4) you re not a convicted felon who has not been discharged or pardoned; (5) you haven t been declared by a court to be mentally incompetent to vote; and (6) you re not registered in another county or state. You will have to provide proper photo identification only if you are a first time voter who registered by mail after January 1, 2003, and you did not provide verified last for digits of your social security, driver s license or state ID card when you registered to vote. Under no circumstance must a voter show a photo ID in order to vote. If you do not have a photo identification and must provide ID, you can provide a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document with your name and address. What if I ve moved? If you have moved to Arkansas from another state, notify the voter registrar in your previous state of residence to request cancellation. If you are moving from one county to another within the state, your updated registration must be in the county clerk s office by the fourth day before the election. Similarly, if you have moved from one county to another within Arkansas, you must cancel your registration in the old county and re-register in your new county of residence. When your current address differs from what appears on the Precinct Voter Registration list: o a poll workers must contact the county clerk, and o the county clerk must verify that your address is within the precinct. When your new address is within the current voting precinct: o you must complete the change of address portion of a voter registration application form to update county voter registration records. When your new address is not within the current voting precinct: o you must first verify with the county clerk your correct voting precinct. Then, you must visit the polling site for your correct voting precinct and complete the change of address portion of a voter registration application. o This procedure will update the county voter registration records and allow you to vote. What if I m a student? You can register to vote at whatever address you regard as your primary legal residence. This can be your school address or your home address. 2

3 What if I ve been convicted of a crime? If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can vote, but you have to vote by absentee ballot if you're still in jail. If you were convicted of a felony, to restore your right to vote you must take proof of your discharge and proof that you have paid all probation or parole fees, court costs, fines or restitution to your local county clerk. Once your county clerk has received this proof, you are eligible to register to vote. If you do not have proof of your discharge, and you were released or paroled, you should contact the entity that released you. If you were released through probation, you should contact the records units for the individual correction units. ADC: Centralized Records- Discharge Files 1 (870) at 980 Freeline Drive, Pine Bluff, AR For DCC, you should contact your parole or probation officer as it relates to supervision and supervision fees. Proof of restitution payments can be obtained by the entity collecting restitution payments, if any. The circuit clerk where your charges were pled or tried can provide you proof of discharge of any fines and costs. It is best to collect these records at the time of discharge or as soon as possible thereafter and retain copies of these records as they may be increasingly difficult to obtain as time goes by. You can restore your voting rights only after you serve your full sentence, including probation, parole, payment of applicable costs or fines, and any other terms of imprisonment. What if I m homeless? You don t need a home to register, but you do have to identify a place of residence (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other place of residence where you usually stay) and a mailing address (which can be the address of a person or organization that has agreed to accept mail on your behalf). REGISTRATION How do I register? You can register to vote: (1) in person, by filling out a voter registration form at your county clerk s office; (2) by mail, by filling out a mail-in registration form and mailing it to the Secretary of State or your county clerk s office; or (3) when you apply for services at Driver Services and state agencies that provide public assistance (such as Medicaid, WIC and food stamps) or services to people with disabilities. You may also be able to register at many other state and federal offices and agencies. You can get mail-in voter registration forms from your county clerk, from most libraries, colleges and high schools, by calling the Secretary of State Elections Division at , or online at 3

4 What s the registration deadline? You must register to vote in AR in person or by mail no later than 30 days prior to the election in which you wish to vote. February 1 is the voter registration deadline for the March 1 primary. October 10 is the registration deadline for the November general election. If you submit your application for registration close to an election registration deadline, you should follow up with your county clerk to check your registration status. Applying in person with the clerk and ensuring your application is processed immediately is the only registration method that will ensure your eligibility. What if I miss the deadline? You won t be able to vote in an election in the next 29 days, but you can register to vote in other future elections. What if I ve moved or changed my name? You should update your registration every time you move or change your name, including any name changes as a result of marriage or divorce. If you haven t updated your registration, or if you move or change your name, call your county clerk as soon as possible to find out where and how to vote. How do I know if I m registered? You can check your registration status by calling your county clerk or online at VOTING EARLY Can I vote before Election Day? For some elections, you can vote early in person, and you may be able to vote early by absentee ballot. You can vote by absentee ballot if you ll either be unavoidably absent from your precinct on Election Day or unable to vote at the polls because of an illness or physical disability. How do I vote early in person? For a preferential primary or general election: o Apply to the county clerk s designated early voting location up to 15 days before the election between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 Aa.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, ending at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the election. o During a preferential primary or a general election, early voting is available between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, ending at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the 4

5 election. Early voting is usually at your county clerk s office though this, and off-site early voting hours and locations do vary by county. Watch your local newspaper or contact your county clerk for information. Before any other election, including general primary and general runoff elections: o Apply to the county clerk during regular office hours up to seven days before the election and ending on the day before the Election Day at the time the county clerk s office regularly closes. Go to an early voting site. Check your local newspaper or call your county clerk for the hours and location of an early voting site near you. Can anyone vote absentee in Arkansas? Only a qualified voter who will be unavoidably absent from the polls on the day of the election (such as a citizen residing or temporarily outside the US), or a qualified voter who will be unable to attend the polls because of illness or physical disability may vote absentee in Arkansas. How do I get an absentee ballot? Call or visit your county clerk s office to get an application for an absentee ballot for a list of county clerk s names and phone numbers visit: Then submit your application to your county clerk s office: 1) in person or fax no later than February 1 st at the end of the business day; 2) by mail - must be postmarked by February 1st (make sure you mail early enough to reach this deadline); 3) by sending a designated bearer (someone you choose to pick up or deliver your ballot) no later than February 1 st ; or 4) by sending an authorized agent (An administrator who has filed an affidavit with the county clerk authorizing him or her to assist voters who are hospitalized or living in a long-term care facility) by 1:30 p.m. on Election Day. What s the deadline for returning my absentee ballot? To be counted, your absentee ballot must be received by your county clerk by the close of business on the day before the election if you deliver it personally by hand, or by 7:30 p.m. the day of election if you deliver it by mail, by a designated bearer, or by authorized agent. 5

6 VOTING ON ELECTION DAY When is Election Day? There are many local races but dates for statewide races in 2016 include: o Primary election March 1, 2016 o Primary run off March 22, 2016 o General election November 8, 2016 o General run off November 29, 2016 When are the polls open? Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Election Day. You have the right to vote if you re in line when the polls close. Times for early voting will vary so you should check with your county clerk s office. If polling place is not open at 7:30 a.m. on Election Day, stay at the polling location and contact the Election Protection hotline. Can I get time off from work to vote? Maybe. If your work schedule would otherwise prevent you from voting in person while the polls are open on Election Day, your employer is required to schedule you so that you have an opportunity to vote. Where do I vote? On Election Day, you have to vote at the polling place to which you re assigned. Your assigned polling place will be listed on the acknowledgment that you should receive in the mail when you register. If you don t have your acknowledgement, you can call your county clerk or look up your polling place online at and you can find your county clerk s phone number and fax number at: Can I take campaign materials with me into my polling place? It s illegal to distribute, hand out or display campaign materials at a polling place or to distribute any campaign materials within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place. But you can bring a voting aid for your own use such as a sample ballot, a voter guide, this card or even campaign materials to be used as a voting aid so long as the campaign materials are not displayed or distributed. What if my polling place is not accessible? Each county election board has the responsibility to ensure that polling places are accessible. If you find out before Election Day that your polling place is not accessible, call the State Board of Election Commissioners ( ) and the county clerk and county board of elections right away to ask for an accommodation. You have the right to an accessible polling place and an 6

7 accessible voting machine. Or, if you prefer, vote by absentee ballot. If you have problems on Election Day, call OUR-VOTE/ You can also have two poll workers help you, or you can bring one person of your choice to assist you. You have the right to have anyone you choose assist you as long as the person is not your employer, an agent of your employer or an officer or agent of your labor union. Can I get a ballot in my native language? Most election materials in Arkansas are available in English only, and you have the right to bring a translator with you to the polls or to get assistance in your language from anyone you choose, as long as the person is not your employer, an agent of your employer or an officer or agent of your labor union. What if I need help in the voting booth? If you need help because of a physical disability or because you can t read the ballot because English is not your first language or you are visually impaired, tell a poll worker when you get to your polling place. You have the right to vote on an accessible voting machine. You also have the right to have anyone you choose assist you in the voting booth, including poll workers, as long as the person is not your employer, an agent of your employer or an officer or agent of your labor union. If you need instructions on how to use the voting equipment, ask a poll worker for help. Poll workers are required to help you. If you inform a poll worker at the polling site that you are unable to stand in line for extended periods of time, you re entitled to cut the line and vote right away. VOTER ID Do I have to show a photo ID? No under no circumstances must a voter show a photo ID in order to vote. Only in a very limited circumstance is ID required when voting, and in that circumstance, non-photo ID is legally sufficient. Only first time voters who did not provide a driver s license, ID, or social security number when registering to vote may be required to show some proof of identification, but it need not be photo ID. Alternatives for these voters include showing a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter s name and address. Poll workers may still ask voters for identification but voters who do not have or choose not to show ID will be allowed to cast a regular ballot. 7

8 What if I am not allowed to vote without ID? You may cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only if permitted by the county board of election commissioners or, if time permits, you may seek assistance from the hotline prior to casting the provisional ballot. PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS What if I m not on the voter list? First, ask a poll worker to check the list again and to confirm that you re at the right polling place. The poll worker should ask you to confirm your address and date of birth and attempt to verify with your county clerk that you are a registered voter in the county and at that precinct. If you re at the right polling place but your name isn t on the voter list and the poll worker cannot confirm your information, you can ask for a provisional ballot. You have the right to cast a provisional ballot even if your name is not on the voter list, as long as you re willing to fill out an Eligibility Affirmation swearing that you believe you are registered to vote. What if my name differs from the Precinct Voter Registration List? You must complete a voter registration form to update county voter registration records, but you should be allowed to cast a regular ballot. What if I go to the wrong polling place? Go to the right polling place. You can ask a poll worker to help you find the polling place where you re registered. You can also call your county clerk or look up your polling place online at org If you re unsure where to go, call the Election Protection hotline. You can also go to the polling place you think is most likely the right one, fill out a Change in Polling Site Authorization Form and a new voter registration application. Then you should be allowed to vote a regular ballot at your correct polling place. What if someone challenges my right to vote? Assert your right, but especially on Election Day (as opposed to early voting), if you cannot persuade poll workers to accept you as a voter, you can always ask for a provisional ballot. Election officials will rule on the challenge before the election results become final, and your ballot will be counted if they determine that you were eligible to vote. What if someone tries to intimidate or harass me? Tell a poll worker right away. If the poll worker is the problem, tell a poll watcher and the election judge, and also call your county clerk. You can also call the election hotline numbers listed in this guide. You can ask for ID of any poll worker. 8

9 What if I make a mistake on my ballot or the voting machine malfunctions? Tell a poll worker before you cast your vote. If you spoil a paper ballot, you have the right to up to two replacement ballots as long as you catch the mistake before you cast your ballot. If your machine malfunctions, bring it to the poll workers attention so that you can vote on a different machine or paper ballot. How do I make a complaint? First, ask for an election judge at your polling place. He or she can handle most routine complaints that arise on Election Day. Candidates, political parties, and nonprofit groups may also have poll watchers at your polling place who might be able to assist you. If any of those people ask you who you voted for, or if they can t resolve your complaint, call your county clerk, the Secretary of State or the Arkansas State Board of Election. There is a formal process for complaining to the AR State Board of Elections, but the deadlines are strict, usually giving voters only 30 days to file a complaint. You can also call the Election Protection hotline at OUR-VOTE / TIPS FOR AVOIDING PROBLEMS Check your voter registration status at least 30 days before the election. Vote before Election Day using early voting. If you plan to vote at the polls, locate your polling place at least 30 days before the election. Vote early in the day to avoid the last-minute rush. Bring identification to help speed the process or in case you encounter a polling place that is not adhering to the law. Read all instructions carefully. Ask for help if you need it. Take your time. You have up to five minutes in the voting booth to cast your vote. 9

10 CONTACTS 1. ACLU of Arkansas: or through the Election Protection hotline OUR-VOTE/ Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners: (501) or (800) Arkansas Secretary of State: (800) Directory of County Clerks: 5. U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Rights Section: (800) or (202) Contact the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas for more information on voting rights or to request support if you believe your voting rights may have been violated. ACLU of Arkansas s Voting Rights materials: 10

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