FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fayetteville voters turned out in high numbers Tuesday, and they posted a record number of votes for a contested school board election. The city had two such elections along with a millage school tax approval, which passed overwhelmingly.
In the at-large position for District #1, Megan Hurley beat challenger Elisabeth Beasley with more than 70% of the vote. The race set the record with 5,568 total votes.
“For just a contested candidate race only, this was the highest voter turnout we’ve ever seen,” said Jennifer Price, the Director of Elections for Washington County.
The in-person turnouts for Tuesday’s Election Day rivaled November 2020’s general election in some areas.
“Three of our sites yesterday matched or exceeded what they saw in the general election for the voter turnout, so that was really exciting for us,” Price said.
Dr. Andrew Dowdle is a political scientist at the University of Arkansas. He said the overall numbers were expectedly lower than the general election.
“The Fayetteville School Board election saw about 5,600 voters,” Dowdle said. “By contrast, in November, you had about 38,000 voters.”
The turnout was large relative to similar elections across the state, Dowdle said, and he attributed that to Fayetteville’s high level of civic engagement, education levels and identity politics.
“You end up getting a lot of ideological discuss and disagreements,” Dowdle. “That ends up causing a large number of people to be engaged, relatively speaking.”
Price said younger voters made up the majority of votes.
“It was really a younger generation turning up to vote,” Price said. “We think this generation, this age group between 34 and 55, is really going to be the new driving force.”