This is it for the Randolph County wet effort

Clerk’s office reports huge voter turnout in early voting

POCAHONTAS, Ark. – For many years, Linda Bowlin and others have dedicated a great portion of their lives to giving the residents of Randolph County a democratic choice to be able to legally buy alcohol.

This year, they have that choice and as of Wednesday morning, over 27-percent of active registered voters had cast a ballot in early voting.

“This may be the last time for many years that we get a chance to since this issue is so hard to get on the ballot,” Bowlin said.

It is likely that on Tuesday, November 6, the decision that voters make will be the final word for a generation on the matter. Bowlin has made three serious attempts with her current and previous groups and each time, the support for the effort to become a wet county seemed strong. However, between legal challenges and petition signatures being thrown out, getting a chance to actually vote has been the hurdle.

That hurdle was no problem this year. Finally, voters will decide.

Major Turnout

In eight days of early voting, approximately 22-percent of the registered voters (active and inactive) have cast their ballot. The Randolph County Clerk’s Facebook page says 2,364 had been cast as of Tuesday’s end.

The county’s population is estimated to be 17,557 as of 2017, per Google estimates using U.S. Census Bureau data. A deputy clerk told NEA Report 8,701 active registered voters are in the county. That makes the voter turnout closer to 27-percent.

By comparison, Craighead County is at about 15-percent voter turnout, thus far. Greene County is at close to 17-percent.

Opposition

The public won’t know vote totals until next Tuesday night but there has been opposition throughout the process.

One such example is the “Citizens For a Safe Randolph County” group. They have been almost entirely funded by liquor stores which benefit from Randolph County remaining dry, according to filings with the secretary of state’s office. Still, some local religious leaders are joining their effort to block the sale of alcohol in the county.

Bowlin said she has seen some push inaccurate information from ARFamilyCoalition.org. The website represents the Arkansas Family Coalition, a religious non-profit led by Bob Hester which takes issue with alcohol, pornography, and Downtown Jonesboro’s growth (which the site claims is a “fallacy.”)

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Pornography creates “seriel” killers, the Arkansas Family Coalition asserts.

Among the site’s claims include such assertions that:

  • Pornography creates “seriel” killers.
  • Downtown Jonesboro is falsely reported as thriving economically, when it is failing.
  • Crime goes up across the board when a county goes wet

Bowlin said much of the information on the website is inaccurate. She said the website was set up in 2014 to fight the statewide effort. The site does not appear to have been updated recently.

Early voting continues through Monday, November 5. Election day is Tuesday, November 6. Verify your voter registration with the Arkansas Secretary of State here.

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