Election News

A Voter’s Guide to Ballots

Nov. 3 is nearing and students need to have a solid understanding when it comes to voting in this year’s election. Over 90 million eligible voters did not use their right in the 2016 election. Uncertainty can hold many back from voting, but a clear voter’s guide may encourage more participation.

Benton County Clerk, Betsy Harrell, answered a few questions to help demystify the voting process. “The Express Votes, which are our electronic ballot-marking devices, have the names or issues on the screen, and the choices are recorded through touching the screen next to the name or choice on the issue,” Harrell continued.  “The ballot is issued when the voter checks in at our tablets, verifies their name, date of birth and address and shows a photo ID.  They are issued a card that contains a barcode at the top which is the precinct information, which determines which ballot the machine pulls up for the voter based on where they live. The voter inserts the card into a slot near the bottom right side of the screen, makes their selections, then prints their ballot when they are done. Then the card is inserted into the ballot counter on their way out of the polling site.” 

Harrell said the most common mistake voters make is either filling in two options when it says to only mark one or not marking any options at all. She emphasizes that it is not wrong to leave a section of the ballot blank, but make sure that you did that intentionally.

The ballot will not only have an option to vote in the presidential race, but many other national and local races as well. Harrell said, “Local races have a direct impact on how your tax dollars are spent, especially school board elections, and the turnouts for those are usually very low.”

Vivian Schochler, a sophomore political science major, plans to use her vote this upcoming election. “I think, as the rising generation of professionals, it is our duty to influence the world we are about to enter,” she said. “This is the country we live in, and the politics of our country determine a lot about what our futures will look like. By going to college, we are already trying to better our future. Voting is just another way to do that.”

If you are an Arkansas resident, poll locations include First Christian Church of Siloam Springs, Parish Hall in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Logan Community Building and Siloam Springs Community Building. These polls will be open on Election Day from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Remember to bring a photo ID and to wear a mask when voting in person.

At college, many students think they are unable to vote since they are not currently living in the state in which they are registered. However, the absentee ballot is available for this kind of circumstance. This form of voting allows a person registered in a different state to vote from where they currently reside. To request an absentee ballot, visit your home state’s voting website. A week or two later, your ballot, along with instructions on how to properly fill it out, will arrive in the mail. Filling out an absentee ballot follows the same process as that of an in-person paper ballot.

Make sure to use a blue or black pen and to sign your name on the indicated line on the back of the envelope. According to ABC News, your signature on the ballot should match the signature your state has on file. Failing to follow these steps will disqualify your ballot. Follow your state’s instructions provided in the absentee packet. Read them thoroughly before filling out the ballot. Finally, remember to send your absentee ballot in early so that it arrives before polls close on Nov. 3.

Freshman nursing major Delaney Barnes declared, “I just voted today! I used the absentee ballot, and it was extremely easy to use. It took me less than five minutes to fill out. Now all I have to do is mail it in!”

For more information and to see if you are registered to vote, visit https://www.voterview.ar-nova.org/voterview and your state’s voting website.