Testing the equipment

Craighead County Elections Coordinator Jennifer Clack tests an ExpressVote check-in system in preparation for early voting, which begins Monday.

JONESBORO — The early voting period begins Monday and officials say they’re prepared for Craighead County residents to cast their ballots.

Election Coordinator Jennifer Clack said poll workers will wear face coverings, “either masks, shields or both.” Surfaces that are frequently touched like check-in tablets and voting machines will be sanitized regularly, she said.

“We usually have a nice crowd in the morning, but I have a feeling we’ll be pretty busy (Monday). Of course, our line is going to be spaced out so it may look longer than it really is,” Clack said. “If the weather is rainy, we’ll have tents in the back to cover everybody up.”

Although face coverings aren’t required to vote in person, County Clerk Lesli Penny said they are encouraged.

“Come early, be prepared to show I.D. and we’ll get you in to vote,” Penny said.

Once a voter’s information is verified, each voter will receive a card with a barcode and a stylus that they can keep, Clack said. The card is used to upload voter’s unique ballot onto the screen, she said.

“If there’s a race they don’t know about, … they can skip a race if they wish and at the end, it will print their card off for them,” Clack said.

The voter will receive a new coded card once the voter makes their choices, she said. After verifying the information, the voter will be instructed to place it in another machine as they exit the building.

Early voting will be conducted from Monday through Nov. 2 at the Craighead County Election Annex, 315 W. Jefferson Ave., Jonesboro, and the Craighead County Eastern District Courthouse/Annex, 113 Cobean Blvd., Lake City.

Hours are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. On Nov. 2, the sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At the Jonesboro location, 20 voting machines, including two for disabled voters, will be available and 10 voters can be spaced out in the lobby at one time, Clack said.

Absentee voters who wish to return their ballots in person can do so at the clerk’s office, early voting locations and a drive-thru at 209 W. Washington Ave., Jonesboro.

Of the 2,661 absentee ballots mailed out, 1,283 Craighead County residents have returned them, Penny said. Arkansans can apply for an absentee ballot through Oct. 27.

Voters can preview a sample ballot courtesy of Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston.

To confirm voter registration status, get a list of polling places or view a sample ballot, visit voterview.ar-nova.org. Sample ballots may be found at the bottom of the voter’s registration page.

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