Governor addresses voting to determine future

Monday is the first day for early voting, and today I’d like to talk about what will be on the ballot.

At the top of the ballot, of course, are the names of those running for president. You’ll also find the names of Arkansans who are running for the U.S. Congress and one statewide senate race. Of course, this year you will have local legislative races, school board elections, county government candidates, and perhaps, local issues to decide. In other words, we need to do a little homework before we vote. But most importantly, we all need to vote.

On the statewide ballot, we have the chance to vote on three proposed amendments to the constitution that members of the 92nd General Assembly referred to voters.

Issue 1 asks voters to indefinitely extend a half-cent sales tax that will be dedicated to the maintenance of roads, bridges, and highways. Voters approved the tax in 2012. Without voters’ approval to extend it, the tax will expire at the end of 2022.

Issue 2 restructures term limits for state legislators. Current law limits legislators to 16 years in the Senate, the House, or in combination. The proposed change would limit service to 12 consecutive years. A former legislator would be able to serve again after a four-year break.

Issue 3 changes the way the citizens and legislators refer proposals to constitutional amendments for a statewide vote.

Since the founding of our nation, we have elected 45 presidents. Since Arkansas became a state, we have elected 46 governors. The freedom to vote and elect our leaders is a hard-won right and privilege that is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. At all levels of our nation – city, county, state, and federal – the ballot box is an equalizer that gives every citizen a voice in governing.

Millions of Americans have written the history of our nation by participating in our elections. The voting booth links us to the past as we determine our future. I know that sometimes the lines are long, and voting can be inconvenient. As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, voting may be even more difficult. But don’t let that stop you from voting.

The leaders of Arkansas’ major political parties are united in their determination to ensure that every registered voter can safely and securely cast a ballot on Nov. 3. Arkansans may not agree on everything, but I know we agree that every vote counts.

This year, you can vote by absentee ballot, you can do early voting starting Monday or you can do it the traditional way by voting in person on Election Day.

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