The 2022 preferential primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 24, with early voting beginning on Monday. This election is combined with the nonpartisan general election and the annual school election. Primary elections allow the parties to choose their preferred candidate for the November election.
What does that mean? It means that you may choose to vote in the Democratic primary election, or the Republican primary election, or the nonpartisan general election. Nonpartisan ballots only contain state Supreme Court judges and school board millages and races, if contested.
In Arkansas, voters are not required to pick a certain party when they register to vote. In Garland County, we currently have 63,806 registered voters, with approximately 1,700 registered as Democrat, 2,600 as Republicans, 11 as Libertarian and two as Green Party. The Libertarian and Green parties choose candidates by convention and not elections.
So you get to choose. When you go to the polls to vote, you will be asked which election you wish to vote in. Regardless of how you are registered, you may choose either party's primary to vote in. That will not change your voter registration, and the 59,000-plus voters registered as independent or optional will remain registered that way.
Due to the quantity of candidates in some races, it appears that there will be a runoff election on June 21, possibly in both parties. The only restriction is that if you choose one party in the May 24 election, you cannot vote in the other party's runoff in June.
Many voters skip primary elections due to the fear of being labeled as members of one of the political parties, but that is not the case. Some also say that they don't know enough about the candidates who are running but don't take the time to learn.
Find out about your ballot choices by visiting http://www.garlandcountyvote.org, and choose "Voter View" to view and/or print your ballot along with voting locations.
Gene Haley is the chairman of the Garland County Election Commission and the county's election coordinator.