Paragould voters speak out on election day
By Courtney Edwards
Delta Digital News Service
PARAGOULD, Ark. — Voting in this year’s presidential election was unlike anything the nation had ever seen before during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a record number in absentee ballots cast. Some voters in Paragould said that it made it easier for those who did show up at the polls on election day.
“This is the easiest I’ve ever voted before,” Paragould voter J.J. Qualls said. “Normally, there’s lines and lines and it takes an hour or two, but I walked right in and came out five minutes later. I don’t know if it’s been like this all day or what, but it’s amazing.”
Although the pandemic may have made the line at the polls shorter, the nation’s voter turnout has increased by over 2% compared to the 2016 general election, according to the Washington Post. Out of the voting eligible population, 62.4% voted in the 2020 election as of Nov. 4, compared to 60.1% from 2016.
President Donald Trump won the state of Arkansas in the 2020 presidential election with 62.6% of votes. However, former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidential election with 290 electoral votes as of Nov. 7, according to the Associated Press.
Arkansas’s results may have been disappointing for Paragould voter, Wilburn McCracken, but the national results were still in his favor.
“We definitely need a change. The one we have is just too rambunctious and too radical,” McCracken said. “He doesn’t have sensibility for the little man, and we need somebody who will represent everybody.”
Mayoral candidate, Josh Agee was recently elected as Mayor of Paragould on Nov. 3. Jonathan Walker, a voter from Paragould, said he was excited to see the results of the mayoral election.
“I liked [Agee’s] energy and I liked how prepared he was for everything, so we’ll see how he does,” Walker said.
Along with the presidential election, Arkansas ballots included three proposed constitutional amendments to decide:
Issue 1: 0.5% permanent sales tax for state highways, country roads, city streets, bridges, and other surface transportations.
Issue 2: Arkansas term limits amendment to eliminate life-time term limits and prohibit legislators from serving more than 12 years in a row but allow them to serve for 12 more after four years have passed.
Issue 3: Change the date when voter signatures are due for statewide ballot measures from four months ahead of the election to Jan. 15 of the election year, increase the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected from 15 to 45, establish Apr. 15 of the election year as the deadline for filing lawsuits challenging statewide ballot measures, and eliminate the cure period for local ballot measures if the first found of signatures does not meet the threshold.
Issue 1 and 2 were approved on Nov. 3, but Issue 3 was not approved.
Residents in Paragould generally were not worried about disturbances from the public after the election results were announced, but nationally no one knows what could happen. Retailers all over the nation have been preparing for unrest after the election since October.
“I’m not so much worried here, in our little, small town, but throughout the United States, I’m scared there are going to be some bad things that happen,” Kelly Gibson, a voter from Paragould, said.
In Little Rock, police said they had an operation plan in place with how they would respond if civil unrest took place. Portland, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis are among cities which have already seen unrest as of Nov. 4, before the election results were even released. Fox News reported that many of the protests were being led by Black Lives Matter movements.
“The past several presidencies have really caused a lot of tension from right and left,” Walker said. “But I think here in Arkansas everybody seems to get along for the most part.”
Note: Featured photo by Courtney Edwards
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