LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Governor Hutchinson announced Thursday Arkansans will have the option to choose an absentee ballot for the November election.
It's for people who are concerned for their safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
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Voters can request an absentee ballot application from their county clerk through the mail, or it can be downloaded through the Secretary of State's website.
Once the application is returned, a ballot will be mailed to the voter on the county's dime.
In Pulaski County, there are 250,000 registered voters, making it the largest voting county in Arkansas.
There's only enough money budgeted for 9,000 absentee ballots, but this year, it's estimated there will be more than 40,000 people applying for an absentee ballot.
"Mailing out a ballot to everybody is $2.50 per person," said Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth. "So, our concern is through the CARES Act or even maybe emergency funding from the state, will they reimburse us for those particular costs?"
Hollingsworth said it could cost up to $600,000 to foot the bill for mailing out absentee ballots, and that's not including mailing out the applications to request a ballot. She said that could be an additional $125,000.
The Secretary of State said money from the CARES act will go toward helping the counties pay for the additional costs.
According to Hollingsworth, there will be a formula the Secretary of State will use to divide the money among the counties.
There is still litigation being finalized, so it is not known yet how much of the federal money will go to each county or how it will be used for postage.
"We need that funding for postage, for printing, and that kind of thing because we want everybody to be able to vote safely and freely, and that's our concern," said Hollingsworth.
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Some dates to remember for the November election:
October 5: The deadline to register for the November election.
October 27: The deadline for application submission to get an absentee ballot.
October 19 - November 2: Early voting.
November 3: Election Day. Ballots must be in by 7:30 p.m.