People wait in line Monday to early vote at the Madison County Courthouse. Photos by Rod Harrington for The Record.
People wait in line Monday to early vote at the Madison County Courthouse. Photos by Rod Harrington for The Record.

A total of 455 people had voted early as of about noon on Tuesday, according to Madison County Clerk Tamitha Blocker.

In addition, 686 absentee ballots have been sent to voters, Blocker said.

In 2016, the last presidential election, a total of 2,334 people voted early while 143 voted by absentee ballot, Blocker said.

More than 300 people voted early on Monday at the Madison County Courthouse, the first day of early voting in Arkansas.

“It was a zoo, but it worked really well. People were very patient and we got them through pretty quickly,” Blocker said on Tuesday. “We had a good turnout for the first day in that it’s comparable to the day before elections normally, and we had 336 [on Monday]. I don’t know if it was a record, but it was probably right up there.”

Blocker said the election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden brought a lot of people to the polls on Monday.

“Most of it’s driven by the presidential election, from what we’ve been hearing from the people,” she said.

Other races include seats on the Madison County Quorum Court and two races for state representatives who represent parts of the county.

Blocker said she expects Nov. 2, the day before the General Election, to be another big day for early voting.

“For whatever reason, people wait until the last minute so it’s always busy and there’s always a line, even on a year when we’re not dealing with Covid,” she said.

Voters were given the option this year of voting with absentee ballots, instead of early voting or voting on Nov. 3, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

There were seven voting machines set up at the courthouse for early voting, with seven to eight poll workers each day.

“I think it [Monday] went pretty smoothly. So far so good,” Blocker said.

“We’ve got some of our poll workers that are actually coming in and working a day to get some hands-on training,” Blocker said.

“We just want people to plan ahead,” she said. “There will be long lines. This is a presidential election, so it’s the busiest election of the four-year cycle. We do have the new equipment and a lot of voters haven’t used it before. ... And there’s a lot on the ballot, the amendments and everything, so if people come unprepared and they haven’t studied up on those issues, that’s going to take extra time for them to vote, so the lines may back up a little.”

Early voting at the courthouse is taking place this week and next from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The last day to early vote will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. The General Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

A registered voter in Madison County can vote at any of the five voting centers on Nov. 3, regardless of where they live in the county.

The five voting centers in Madison County are Hindsville First Baptist Church, Huntsville Missionary Baptist Church, Kingston Community Building, St. Paul Community Building and Wesley Community Building. 

During the March Primary Election, 2,734 people voted at the five vote centers. A total of 624 voted in Huntsville, 375 in Hindsville, 335 in Wesley, 294 in St. Paul and 144 in Kingston. 

Because of social distancing on Nov. 3, only a few voters at a time will be allowed inside a voting center. Blocker said poll workers will wear protective gear. Voters are not required to wear masks, though it is recommended.