On July 2nd, Governor Hutchinson officially announced that the COVID-19 virus is an admissible excuse for Arkansans who want to vote from home using mail-in ballots.

Using absentee ballots to vote from home will be new to many of us this year, but it’s not a new concept. In fact, Americans started voting by mail during the Civil War. With more than 150 years of practice under our belts, we know that voting from home is reliable and safe.

Some Arkansans vote from home in every election, either because they are active military members living overseas or because they are physically unable to travel to a polling place.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for voters who want to send in their ballots by mail.

1.   Fill out an absentee ballot application. In that first section, check the “I will be unavoidably absent” box. Probably you reside in the county in which you’re registered, so in the second section you’ll check that box. In the third section, check “General Election/Nonpartisan Runoff & General Election Runoff,” if you want to vote in the Nov. 3 election (the Presidential election, and all the other races in your area).

You also need to choose how to receive your ballot. If you’re a member of the military and are stationed overseas, you can receive a ballot electronically. Otherwise, you’ll need to physically go to your county clerk’s office to pick it up or ask to have it mailed to you. Check the box corresponding to your choice.

Once your application for an absentee ballot is filled out, send it to your county clerk by snail mail or email. The application form has a handy link at the bottom to help you find the contact information you need.

2.  When your ballot arrives, act fast! Ballots should hit mailboxes in September. When you get yours, get to work. Your completed ballot, along with a photocopy of your ID, must be received at your county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, November 3. Find out what types of ID are acceptable here by scrolling down to the Arkansas section. You can find your county clerk’s mailing address and email address HERE.

3. Make sure your ballot arrived. If you mail your ballot back early, you will have time to check in with your county clerk before Election Day to make sure it was received.

For AR People encourages every Arkansan to be a voter. And this year, given our unique public health concerns, we encourage everyone to think about voting from home. It’s safe, reliable, and a responsible thing to do.