Early voting begins in Washington County

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA)- Rain didn’t keep people from getting out to vote today. Many waited up to an hour to cast their ballot.

Washington County Election Commissioner, Jennifer Price, says turnout was beyond what was expected and the wait outside the courthouse was partially due to COVID-19 guidelines.

Every voting machine inside Washington County Courthouse was cleaned between each voter.

“We have set them up to abide by social distancing standards, we have all the safety protocols in place with the plexiglass shields, styluses for every voter that comes in and all the lines marked at six feet intervals,” Price said.

Price said this is what led to longer wait times outside the voting polls.

“We will exceed our numbers from 2016 and everything has been going very smoothly,” Price said. “We do have lines because we’re practicing social distancing and we’re making sure we’re limiting the number of voters inside at one time.”

The lines didn’t stop first time voter, Leon Jones.

“I couldn’t wait any longer,” Jones said. “It was one of those things, like, I’ve been waiting for this for, well, 20 years.”

In addition to machines being cleaned regularly, Price said staff is encouraging social distancing, has hand sanitizer readily available and is providing stylus pens so you don’t have to actually touch the screen when voting.

“I felt really safe this is the first time voting in the federal election in the state of Arkansas and considering the pandemic I waited outside in the rain for an hour and felt safe everybody followed guidelines,” said Barrett Larson, who voted today.

It’s this feeling of safety Price said her team has been preparing months for.

“We wanna make sure that everyone is taken care of and we have a safe environment for people to vote in,” she said. “We know it’ll be safe for the voters when they come to vote in person and we’re doing everything we can to make sure they’re safe and our poll workers are safe.”

Early voting will continue every day until election day, November 3rd.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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