I thought it would be beneficial to explain what voters can expect on Election Day and some of the pertinent laws.

I thought it would be beneficial to explain what voters can expect on Election Day and some of the pertinent laws.

Let’s begin by dispelling a misunderstanding some voters have. Regardless of whom you voted for in the primary, or which political party’s ballot you asked for, voters are free to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of political party.

The first step in the voting process is asking the voter to state name, address and date of birth to locate the voter in the Voter Registration book. After verifying the information, identification is asked for. It can be anything containing the voters name and current address such as a driver’s license, bank statement, utility bill or other government document. Other than a first-time voter with a MUST SHOW ID notation in the book, voters can decline to show identification.

Voters are responsible for keeping their registration current with the County Clerk. If a voter’s name, address or date of birth do not match what is in the registration book, and the voter is registered to vote in Jefferson County, a change form can be completed at that time. If the voter moved to another voting precinct, they must complete a change form and be sent with a transfer form to the correct voting location. Voters registered in another county have until 31 October to switch to Jefferson County to vote here on 4 November.

Poll workers cannot answer questions about issues or candidates; they can only explain how to use a voting machine. There are several issues on the ballot and voters should know how they are going to vote on each before reaching the voting machine. The issues will be available to read at each polling site.

If there is doubt about a voter’s right to vote, or if the registration book shows they received an absentee ballot, voted early, must show ID and they cannot, a provisional ballot is required. The election commission decides if a provisional ballot is counted and notifies the voter. If a vote is not accepted, the voter is afforded the opportunity for a hearing before the election is certified.

If you are an absentee ballot bearer or agent returning a ballot to the clerk’s office, ensure you sign the register and the clerk stamps "bearer" or "agent" on the outer envelope along with entering your name and address. Bearers and agents can only handle two absentee ballots per election, and there is a stiff penalty if convicted violating this law.

The only reason a candidate may enter a polling site during voting hours is to vote or assist a disabled voter at the voter’s request, then not more than six per election including early voting. Anyone assisting a disabled voter must follow the voter’s instructions, cannot tell them whom to vote for, and must provide required information for the voter assist log.

During voting hours, only election officials, voters (and those assisting them), and approved poll watchers are permitted inside a polling site. A candidate cannot be a poll watcher. Campaign workers or candidates cannot enter polling sites to use bathrooms, and all must remain at least 100 feet from the primary entrance.

There can be no activity within 100 feet of the primary entrance used by voters other than exit polling. It is unlawful to solicit votes, distribute literature, display or wear campaign materials, have bumper stickers or signs on vehicles parked transporting voters to the door. If you observe illegal activity, tell the poll judge so it can be stopped. If they do not respond, call the election commission office at (870) 541-5475.

In past elections during early voting, a few candidates, supporters or family members loitered in the clerk’s office or hallway to be seen by voters, talk to them if only to exchange greetings and illegally electioneer. They know it is wrong but do it anyway. Complain to the County Clerk if violations are observed. If she does not respond, call the state board at (501) 682-1834 and report the violation.

Hopefully, the foregoing will prepare readers, candidates and campaign workers will behave, and everything will run smoothly. My Election Day cell number is (870) 718-3602. Please report problems to the commission first but call me if there is a major violation or problem.

Regardless of your political views, please vote, then thank the poll workers for putting in a very long day so you could exercise that privilege.

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Stu Soffer has been the Jefferson County Republican election commissioner for more than 11 years. He is also a State Election Commissioner and President of the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association.