BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new non-partisan organization aims to increase voter turnout for the midterms.
Independent State Senator Jim Hendren is typically busy right before an election, but he is not campaigning for himself this time.
“Common Ground’s mission is voter empowerment. It is voter education and it is making people aware of what is happening in the state and in the politics that they’re participating in,” he said of his organization Common Ground Arkansas.
He founded it after leaving the Republican party in 2021. He says Common Ground is not endorsing any individual candidate this year.
“One of the biggest indicators of a success as far as we’re concerned is a high turnout and helping people understand the importance of this election,” Hendren said.
This year, every state legislative seat is on the ballot; something that only happens once every 10 years. So Common Ground hopes that more people go vote than in the 2018 midterm. That year, 41% of eligible voters in Arkansas participated.
“So that means 60% of our eligible voters in Arkansas stayed home and in Arkansas, we deserve more than 40% so we’re hoping that more people come out to vote in this midterm election,” Common Ground AR Executive Director Misty Orpin said.
Common Ground says that number is indicative of another problem in politics.
“Almost 40% of Arkansans don’t identify with either party and I think that they do not see themselves represented in the process and so if you don’t see yourself represented, you’re less likely to participate,” Orpin said.
“We believe the people should be the boss, not the legislature,” Hendren said.
But that cannot happen unless people vote.
Although the organization is not endorsing candidates, it is advocating for the defeat of Issue 2. If passed, issue two would require a 60% voter approval rate for a constitutional amendment or citizen-proposed law. Currently, it takes a simple majority.