After Garland County, Arkansas closed 40 of its 42 polling places for today’s runoff election, voters who wanted to vote early were turned away all week. Now, on Election Day, the full extent of the county’s boneheaded decision to make it more difficult for residents to vote is coming to bear. Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times reports:
The mess that Garland County Election Commission made has come to full flower. A voting rights activists reports long lines and parking problems at the two — count ‘em, two — polling places that the Commission decided to open for runoff voting. It closed 40 other polls to save money despite the fact that every voter in the county, where some 12,000 voted in the first primary, has three statewide races to consider. [...]
Those in line by 7:30 still may be able to vote. One question, however, may be what constitutes a line. Confident that Commission Chairman Charles Tapp and Co. will have a good answer?
This county went heavily for Halter in a three-way race – a full 3% of his total haul on primary day came from the county’s 42 polling places. Now that all the county’s voters will be funneled into just two polling places, voters with tight schedules could decide to go home rather than face the “long lines and parking problems” already evident.
For more on the Garland County fiasco, be sure to read the Blue Arkansas Blog, which has been all over the story.
You can get full coverage of the Arkansas Senate race at Firedoglake’s page for the latest news and information on Election Day.
UPDATE: Reports from Arkansas indicate that after Halter volunteers spent the morning trying to direct the huge amount of traffic at the two polling places, the state police have been called in to try to alleviate the massive parking problems.