Governor expresses support for no-excuse absentee voting, doesn’t commit to November implementation


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — With important elections coming up in November, scientists expect another COVID-19 spike before the polls open. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Wednesday expressed support for no-excuse absentee ballots but fell short of saying he’d use emergency powers to implement them before voting season.

“If there is an issue that needs to be addressed in November in which we’re still in a public health emergency, I will at that time use the powers for no-excuse absentee voting,” Hutchinson said.

The legislature approved Hutchinson’s temporary emergency powers to battle the COVID-19 outbreak. By November, these powers may no longer be wielded, he said.

Some state lawmakers said voting by mail could make the process safer and easier. Voter fraud concerns, though not supported by major watchdog compilers, have been expressed for reasons why this shouldn’t be implemented in Arkansas. State Sen. Greg Leding (D) said these worries are unfounded.

“It’s just a lack of understanding,” Leding said. “Maybe they’ve just heard that voter fraud can be a problem because it is a myth that is pushed by a lot of people who want to control the way we do elections.”

Five states conduct elections entirely by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while many others provide provisions that allow for voters’ choice.

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