Top Races Take Back Seat in Arkansas Primary

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, May. 20, 2014 12:02 pm  

Arkansas polls remain open until 7:30 p.m. (Photo by Beth Hall)

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' expensive and nationally watched campaigns for governor and the U.S. Senate took a back seat to dozens of congressional, statewide and legislative matchups on Tuesday as voters headed to the polls to decide the state's various primary races.

Neither Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor nor his Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, faces a primary challenge as they gear up for one of the most high-profile Senate races in the country. Two former congressmen who are clear front-runners in their parties' bids for Arkansas governor - Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson - face lesser-known rivals.

Instead, the fight for two open congressional seats highlight an election featuring heated Republican battles up and down the ballot, in a state where the election used to be decided in the Democratic primary. Democrats this year have no contested congressional primaries and the gubernatorial primary is the party's only statewide contest.

Election Coverage: Watch THV 11 News tonight for team election coverage, including Craig O'Neill, Jordan Johnson, Alice Stewart and Arkansas Business' Lance Turner.Poll: Are you voting today? Let us know here.

Secretary of State Mark Martin predicts 20 percent of Arkansas' 1.6 million voters will cast a ballot Tuesday, the first statewide test of a new voter ID law. A state judge has ruled the measure unconstitutional, but has suspended his ruling and says he won't prevent enforcement of the law during the primary.

Laura Labay, Martin's spokeswoman, said no problems were reported Tuesday morning.

"Things are running smoothly, kind of how we expected," Labay said. "We put a lot of effort into letting people know they need their photo ID ... and I think that paid off."

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At Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, legal secretary Marilyn Keps, 57, said showing her ID wasn't a problem but she didn't like doing it.

"I wanted to say something's snide about it but it's a bunch of little grandmas in there. They can't do anything about it," Keps said.

Pine Bluff resident Robert Morehead, 78, said a person's signature should suffice.

"I've been voting here in Pine Bluff since 1960. There's not a poll worker up there that does not know me," Morehead said Tuesday.



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