As of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 1,223 voters in Jefferson County had cast early ballots for the May 22 Primary Election, according to the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office.

Early voting hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The last day to early vote is Monday, May 21. Early voting ends at 5 p.m. that day. Election Day is May 22. On that day, voters must report to their appropriate polling sites between 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to cast their ballots.

So far, early voting has gone smoothly, according to county officials.

Turnout is expected to be fairly heavy with several major local races on the Democratic ballot, including Jefferson County judge and sheriff. Candidates for judge are former county judge Dutch King and Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson, who is retiring.

Candidates for sheriff are Sheriff’s Office Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr., former deputy Larry Gragg and former Arkansas State Trooper Roger McLemore.

Three contested Pine Bluff City Council seats also appear on the Democratic Party ballot. In Ward 1, Position 2, Joni Alexander drew the top spot on the ballot while current Alderwoman Thelma Walker drew the number two position. Milton Jenkins is third on that ballot.

In Ward 3, Position 2, retired Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield is on the ballot’s top spot; former Alderman Glen Brown Sr. is in the second spot and incumbent Bill Brumett will be third.

In Ward 4, Position 2, incumbent Alderman Steven Mays drew the number two position, meaning his challenger, Clarence Edward Davis, appears first on the ballot.

Jefferson County voters will have to make a choice of which election (Republican or Democrat) they want to vote in when they come to early voting or on May 22, election day.

There is also the nonpartisan judicial for an Arkansas Supreme Court race, but it will appear on both political party ballots.

“A voter is entitled to vote in the political party primary of their choice, the Republican or Democrat primary,” said Jefferson County Election Commission Secretary Stuart “Stu” Soffer.

“They do not have to have any affiliation whatsoever with the political party in whose primary they want to vote. Moreover, in the November general election, they are not obligated to vote for the candidate representing the political party whose primary they voted in.”

Soffer further explained that, “for example, if you want to have a say in the four contested county official races (i.e., county judge, sheriff, tax collector and coroner), you will have to vote in the Democrat primary. Conversely, if you want to have a say in the 4th Congressional District or Secretary of State race, you will have to vote in the Republican primary. Both political parties have contested governor’s races. It is a simple matter of asking for the Republican or Democrat ballot when you check in to vote.

“Be aware if a voter votes in the Republican primary and there is a runoff in the Democrat primary, it is a felony offense to crossover vote. So make your decision before arriving at the poll. If you are unsure, view the sample ballots posted on a wall before checking in.”