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I simply can't express this enough. The "down-ballot" races, those political contests far below the races for such national races as President, Vice-President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, are important too.

These "down-ballot" races include those for State Senator, State Representative, Circuit Court Judgeships, District Court Judgeships, Mayor, City Council, School Board seats and, yes, even Justice of the Peace, and are important -- vitally important to where one lives in Washington and Benton Counties.

Remember, if you have not registered to vote by Oct. 5 -- just five days from this publication date -- you cannot cast a vote in the Nov. 3 General Election.

And if that registration to vote was not made inside the county clerk's office in the county where you live, you need to call that county clerk's office before Oct. 5 to ensure that form was processed and turned in to the office to make sure you are eligible to vote on Nov. 3.

Arkansas has no online registration. Arkansas has no same-day registration laws allowing you to register on election day.

Early and in-person voting, as discussed in this space last week, begins on Monday, Oct. 19, and continues at various voting centers until Monday, Nov. 2. Check with the local county clerk for more details and times of the voting centers in your area.

Absentee voting has already begun. The absentee voting deadline for a ballot to be dropped off at the County Clerk's office is Nov. 3.

Remember to take your photo I.D. and please wear your face mask if going out in public to the early in-person voting centers prior to Nov. 3 and also, if voting on Election Day, please do the same. All early in-person voting centers usually operate on an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. cycle, but again, check before you go to make sure.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, as set by state law, all polling centers open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. You will be asked to show your I.D., verbally state where you live and sign the form for your ballot.

As of Sept. 22, 2020, three statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2020 ballot in the state of Arkansas.

The state legislature referred three constitutional amendments to the ballot that would (Issue No.1) make permanent a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund transportation which would, otherwise, expire in 2023; (Issue No. 2) change term limits for state legislators; and (Issue No. 3) change the initiative process and legislative referral requirements.

The Arkansas State Legislature is allowed to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election.

There were also three citizen-initiated measures that were certified for the ballot but were removed from the ballot by the state's supreme court.

Those issues, which may still appear on the ballot, will not be counted even if you select to mark them on a printed absentee ballot or if the voting machine allows the issues to be marked by the voter.

The issues that were removed were:

• Issue 4 would have created an independent redistricting commission for the redistricting of Congressional, state Senate and state House seats following the 2020 U.S. Census;

• Issue 5 would have created top-four-ranked-choice voting for federal congressional offices and state elected offices;

• Issue 6 would have rejected a bill concerning eye surgeries.

A couple of "down-ballot" runoff races for Washington County judicial seats are on the ballot. A race for a circuit court seat and a separate race for a district court seat survive from the March 3 judicial non-partisan election.

Next Week: I'll list the "down-ballot" races for U.S. Senate, Third District Congress, the various State Senate seats and State House seats affecting Benton and Washington County voters on Nov. 3.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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