The race for governor of Arkansas will likely go down in history, regardless of the outcome. Here’s what to expect

The biggest name on the ballot this year in Arkansas is Sarah Sanders, who was White House press secretary under Donald Trump and is bidding to be the state’s first solidly Republican elected female governor.

If indeed she lands the job once held by her father, Mike Huckabee, Sanders would become the most prominent former Trump administration elected to office. She is running against Democratic candidate Chris Jones, an ordained Baptist minister and nuclear engineer. The race also includes Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington.

If either Jones or Harrington win, they will become the first black candidate elected to statewide office in Arkansas.

The four Republican members of the U.S. House from the state and GOP Senator John Boozman are considered safe in their re-election bids.


Sanders may be the biggest name, but the biggest question on the ballot is whether a solidly red state could go even further into Republican but also legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in the state overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump for president in 2016, the same year they approved the legalization of medical marijuana.

This year, they could make the state the first in the South to legalize recreational cannabis. Arkansas is one of five states with recreational marijuana on the ballot on Election Day. The campaign attracted millions of dollars from supporters and opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

election night

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET).

How Arkansas Votes

For the 2020 general elections, held amid the pandemic, 78% of votes were cast early at voting centers or by absentee. For the 2022 primary, early voting accounted for 50% of the votes cast, which was closer to previous elections.

Early ballots are usually the first reported as they have been pouring into country clerk offices for weeks and are counted as they arrive. This means that a large percentage of the total vote is released within two hours of the polls closing at 7:30 p.m. local time. In the 2020 general election, 50% of the votes were counted by 9:16 p.m. local time.


Arkansas is majority Republican. The Democratic stronghold of the state is Pulaski County, where Little Rock is located. Other counties that have voted Democrat in recent years are in eastern Arkansas and Jefferson County, where Pine Bluff is located.

Decision notes

The AP will count the votes and declare the winners of 95 contested elections in Arkansas, including a race for the United States Senate, the race for governor and four races for the United States House.

In the 2020 general election, the AP first announced Arkansas results at 7:38 p.m. local time and 90 percent of the results by 11:14 p.m. local time on election night.

Former White House press secretary under Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders, is the biggest name on the ballot this year in Arkansas.
(Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

The AP can call a statewide or U.S.-wide race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too big for us to call. a recount changes the result. Arkansas does not have a mandatory recount law. A candidate may request a recount regardless of the margin.

The AP will not call ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. The AP will return to those races later in the week to confirm that there are not enough outstanding votes left to count, which could change the outcome.


What else should I know?

Q: What have we learned from Primary?

A: The Arkansas primary showed the influence that not only Trump but Sanders herself already have on the state’s GOP voters. She helped Boozman make the closing plea for re-election, appearing in a campaign ad as the incumbent lawmaker fended off challengers who attempted to paint him as not conservative enough.

Q: What has changed since the 2020 pandemic election?

A: The trend of offering in-person early voting continues. For the 2022 general election, there are voting centers in 48 of Arkansas’ 76 counties. For the 2020 general election, 32 counties have proposed voting centers.

Two years ago, 78% of the ballots were deposited in advance by post or in the voting centers. This year, more voters may be more likely to show up at polling stations on Election Day.

The Republican Arkansas Legislature redrawn the state’s four U.S. House Districts in 2021. The Little Rock area was split into three House Districts, rather than keeping everything in the 2nd District. The move was widely seen as making the district more difficult for Democrats to reclaim the GOP seat.

The legislature also approved new voting restrictions, including an amendment to the state’s voter ID law that removes the ability for someone without ID to vote if they sign an affidavit confirming their identity. .

Q: What does participation and advance voting look like?

A: Turnout in a midterm election is generally lower than in a presidential election. For the 2020 presidential election, turnout in Arkansas was 67% of registered voters. In the 2018 midterm elections, turnout was 50%.

Q: How long does counting usually take?

A: The vast majority of votes will be counted on election night.

Q: What are the pitfalls of early returns?

A: Early feedback can give a picture of things to come, but races can be reshaped later in the evening when results come in from a major urban center or a contestant’s home region, for example. It’s best to treat early returns as an indicator rather than a certainty, knowing that, like a sporting event, there may be twists and turns before it’s over.

Q: What happens after Tuesday?

A: If it’s too close to call on election night, the PA will resume reviewing the results Wednesday morning. In cases where the race remains too close to announce, the AP will not call the race and the winner will be determined after counties submit their verified vote totals on Nov. 23.



“It is clear to me that people are ready. There’s a time when people say, “Of all the barriers and all the ceilings to break, here’s one we want to break.” –Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones on becoming the first black candidate elected to statewide office

“This state is excited and ready to see a generation come in. They are ready to make sure we have someone who is a fighter, who is able to push back against the radical left and the crazy ideas coming out of Washington.” — Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Sanders

farewell thought

This assessment comes from AP journalist Andrew DeMillo, who covered the campaign:

“The biggest question about the Arkansas election is whether a solidly red state could go even further into Republican but also legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in the state overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump for president in 2016, the same year they approved legalizing medical marijuana.

Could they elect Trump’s former spokeswoman as governor this year, but also allow recreational marijuana? The results could show how this issue crosses party lines.

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