Hutchinson issues executive order, says COVID-19 valid reason to request absentee ballot


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is good enough reason for residents to request an absentee ballot.

On Friday, Hutchinson signed an executive order that will allow anyone with concerns about voting in person due to COVID-19 to vote absentee.

“This order affirms Secretary of State John Thurston’s position that the fear of exposure to COVID-19 or of exposing others at the polls is reason enough for a voter to cast an absentee ballot,” Hutchinson said.

The order allows all 75 of Arkansas’s county clerks to prepare the ballots for counting a week before Election Day without opening the envelopes.

The counting won’t be able to begin until 8:30 a.m. on Election Day.

“If a significant number of voters chooses that option, elections officials could be overwhelmed. We’ve already seen a significant increase in the number of applications for absentee ballots,” Hutchinson said. “This executive order builds in extra time for them to process and authenticate absentee ballots to ensure an accurate count and a fair election.” 

Related: Absentee voting allowed in Arkansas amid COVID-19

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