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Pulaski County opens drive-thru for voters to safely drop off absentee ballots

Starting on Monday, Oct. 19, Pulaski County voters can drop off their absentee ballots in a drive-thru on 2nd Street behind the courthouse.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — The Pulaski County clerk has already processed more than 22,000 absentee ballots for the upcoming November election.

Now, all of those voters need to return their ballot either by mail or in-person at the courthouse.

"People are excited," Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth said. "People want to make sure their voice is heard, and I'm excited about that."

A partnership between the City of Little Rock and Pulaski County will allow voters to drop-off their ballot without leaving their vehicles.

"I kept trying to think 'how can we make this an easier process?' The courthouse is closed. People are scared. I really didn't want them to have to get out of their cars, and I was like 'what about the Chick-fil-A line?'" Hollingsworth said with a laugh.

The efficiency of the fast-food chain sparked an idea. 

Starting on Monday, Pulaski County voters can drop off absentee ballots in a drive-thru on 2nd Street behind the courthouse.

"Once they enter, one of our deputy clerks wearing a mask will come to their vehicle request their photo ID and have them sign a voter log," Hollingsworth said.

That worker will then deposit the ballot into a locked container guarded by a sheriff's deputy.

Credit: City of Little Rock

As a result of the ballot return, 2nd Street between Spring Street and Broadway Street will be closed to thru traffic Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The same section of 2nd Street will also be closed Oct. 24 and Oct, 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2nd Street between Center Street and Spring Street will be reduced to one lane during the same time periods to allow for queuing.

City officials realize the closure will likely cause some traffic jams, but they're asking people to be patient.

"We understand there could be frustrations associated with this," Jon Honeywell, Public Works Director for the City, said. "However, there are a lot of opportunities to go around this closure."

The city will set up detours to direct drivers to 3rd Street or Markham Street. 

"I think the city recognizes the importance of people being able to deliver their ballots in a way that they feel safe," Honeywell said.

According to those behind the effort, it's all about amplifying the voices of Arkansans.

"We all have an opportunity to voice our thoughts, our perspectives with our vote," Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said.

Hollingsworth hopes everyone takes advantage of that opportunity.

"Their vote is their voice and their power, so vote no matter what," she said.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.