Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TOP STORY >> Early voting underway in area

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

As early voting began across the state, about 20 people waited in line in Jacksonville to cast their ballots during the first minutes of early voting before Super Tuesday. Along with casting their ballots in the presidential primaries, Jacksonville residents also began voting yesterday on whether to annex Gravel Ridge.

Jacksonville chose to hold the annexation vote the same date as the state’s presidential primaries soon after the attempt to annex the 2,400-acre community of Gravel Ridge and its 3,500 residents began. Both Gravel Ridge and Jacksonville residents will vote in this election.

Early voting will be available for four days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. now until Friday at Jacksonville City Hall. Voting will be available 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday in Sherwood at Jack Evans Senior CitizenS Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive.

Sherwood will hold its own Gravel Ridge annexation vote Tuesday, March 11. Residents of both Sherwood and Gravel Ridge will be able to vote that day.

According to voter registration supervisor Phillip Fletcher, voter registration has not changed much in Pulaski County since the last presidential primary in 2004. In May of that year, 2,923 new voters were registered, he said. This year, 2,176 new voters registered in time for the Jan. 7 registration deadline. He said 747 new voters were registered in the last presidential primary than the current one.

In Pulaski County, voting will also take place through Monday, except for Saturday and Sunday, at the county courthouse at 401 W. Markham in Little Rock from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information in Pulaski County, call 340-8383 or visit www.votepulaski.net.

LONOKE COUNTY

Registered voters can vote now until Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Lonoke County Courthouse at Third and North Center Streets in Lonoke.

Lonoke County Election Commission chairman Larry Clarke said he hasn’t seen a significant increase in registered voters before the primaries. He attributes any slight registration increases to population growth in Cabot, although he says numbers generally appear to be stagnant.

“There’s always a heavy increase before the general election,” Clarke said. “But there doesn’t seem to be much interest in these primaries.”

He said Lonoke County has gained about 400 voters every year in the past decade. “It’s stable,” he said. The county has about 32,000 registered voters. “There hasn’t been real significant change,” Clarke said.

On Tuesday, Lonoke voters who live in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5 will vote at the American Legion Lodge at 117 E. Second St. Lonoke residents in Districts 4, 6, 7 and 8 will vote at the Lonoke Depot at 102 W. Front St.

Austin voters can vote at Austin Station Baptist Church, 1482 East Main St. Cabot Ward 1 voters can vote at the Richie Road Gymnasium at 432 Richie Rd., Ward 2 at Cabot First Baptist Church at 306 W, Pine St., Ward 3 at Veterans Park Community Center and Ward 4 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Youth Center, 310 Hwy. 89 South.

Ward voters will vote at the Ward Chamber of Commerce at 89 West Second Street. Polls will be open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

WHITE COUNTY

Early voting continues through Monday at the White County Courthouse, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The White County voter registration office advises eligible voters who have not received a notice indicating a change in precinct that their voting stations will remain the same as previous voting times.

Voters in Beebe Wards 1 and 2 will vote at the new Beebe City Hall located at 321 N. Elm. Voters in Wards 3, 3C and Union Township will vote at the Beebe Church of Christ at 1906 W. Center Street.

“Voter registration, as far as the number of registered voters, increases on a daily basis,” White County Clerk Tanya Burleson said. “Anytime you have a presidential election it does spark interest,” she said. Burleson said statistics that track numbers of registered voters on a yearly basis are not available.

She said White County has about 42,000 registered voters. Since she has been in the clerk’s office, the population has increased and voter registration has with it, from nearly 25,000 when she started in the clerk’s office 15 years ago. For further clarification on early voting or voting stations in White County, call the clerk’s office at 501-279-6204.