- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Latest on the 2016 election in Arkansas (all times local):

11:30 p.m.

Arkansas has become the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize medical marijuana.

With their approval of Issue 6 on Tuesday, voters will allow patients with a variety of medical conditions and a doctor’s permission to buy marijuana from dispensaries. Patients won’t be allowed to grow their own.

Some political leaders said they preferred that Arkansas legislators instead allow a version of the drug that is low in THC, which gives marijuana its high.

More than half of the states have now legalized medical marijuana.

A separate marijuana question had been approved but Arkansas’ Supreme Court last month directed that votes not be counted. Justices said the petition lacked enough valid signatures.


10 p.m.

Arkansas voters are loosening restrictions on how far the state can go to land major economic development projects.

Voters on Tuesday passed Issue 3, which removes limits on how much state money can be spent on projects. Voters approved an economic development plan in 2004, but bond issues were capped at 5 percent of the state’s general revenues.

Proponents said that easing the restrictions would make it easier to compete for large projects that could bring hundreds of new jobs to the state. Opponents warned that poor judgment by the Legislature could ruin the state budget and cause tax increases down the road.

Under Arkansas’ most recent budget, Arkansas bond issues for economic development projects cannot exceed $259.5 million.

Issue 3 also lets local governments appropriate money for economic development.


9:55 p.m.

Arkansas voters say sheriffs and other local officials can serve four-year terms rather than have to run for re-election every two years.

With their approval Tuesday of Issue 1, certain county officials won’t be able to hold some civil offices. For instance, a sheriff or coroner could not also serve as a town’s mayor. The measure also defines the types of crimes that would make someone ineligible for office.

Legislators had placed the issue before voters. Those in favor said longer terms would give officeholders a greater amount of time to push their ideas through. Opponents said those in office would be more accountable if they were on the ballot every two years.

An “infamous crime” is now defined as a felony, an abuse of office or offenses that include deceit or fraud.


9:45 p.m.

Voters believe Arkansas’ governor should retain his or her powers while traveling outside of the state.

Voters on Tuesday approved Issue 2, which will let the governor keep his or her powers and duties while traveling. Until now, the governor would give control to the lieutenant governor. If the governor and lieutenant governor were both out of state, the Senate president would be in charge.

In 2013, while then-Gov. Mike Beebe was out of state, then-Lt. Gov. Mark Darr signed a bill restricting access to a list of Arkansans licensed to carry concealed handguns. In 1993, then-Senate President Jerry Jewell granted executive clemency to two convicts and also issued two pardons. Jewell’s actions led to reforms in the state’s clemency system.

Proponents said that, with modern technology, the old restrictions were outdated.


9:07 p.m.

Former federal prosecutor Conner Eldridge says he wants to stay engaged in Arkansas’ future despite losing his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, but he isn’t saying whether that means he’s looking to run for another statewide office in two years.

Eldridge said Tuesday that he was proud of the campaign he ran against Boozman, who defeated the Democrat in Arkansas. Eldridge declined to say whether he’s looking at running for governor or attorney general in 2018, saying he’s been focused on his Senate bid and is looking forward to spending time with family now that the election is over.

Eldridge had trailed Boozman in fundraising and polling in the race, and had faced an uphill climb in predominantly Republican Arkansas.


8:43 p.m.

Republican Rep. French Hill will represent the Little Rock area in Washington for a second term, winning re-election by defeating Democrat Dianne Curry and Libertarian Chris Hayes.

Hill spoke against some business regulations during his campaign, while Curry supported raising the minimum wage. Hayes said businesses shouldn’t take advantage of workers, but that the government shouldn’t mandate wage levels.

Hill said a minimum wage set too high would reduce employment. He said that all job markets are local, and that a “one size fits all” approach would be inappropriate.

As a Republican, Hill received questions during the campaign about his support for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Hill said he based his choice for president on the prospects for national security and job growth.


8:40 p.m.

Republican Sen. John Boozman says he hopes members of his party and Democrats in Washington can find common ground on issues such as the economy and national security after a bitterly contested race for the White House and control of the Senate.

Boozman said Tuesday that he was gratified that voters re-elected him to a second Senate term. He defeated Democrat Conner Eldridge, raising significantly more campaign money than the former federal prosecutor.

Boozman was once the only Republican member of the state’s congressional delegation. He says his victory shows how much the state has shifted politically in recent years. The GOP holds all of the statewide and congressional seats in Arkansas, as well as a majority in both chambers of the Legislature.


8:25 p.m.

Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman has defeated Libertarian Kerry Hicks and will represent southern and western Arkansas for a second term in Congress.

Both Westerman and Hicks said before Tuesday’s election that they wanted to address federal spending, notably a $20 trillion national debt. Hicks said the nation needed a “smarter” national defense that didn’t require spending half-a-trillion dollars a year.

Westerman said the focus needed to be on spending on social services and interest on the nation’s debt. He said if Medicare and Social Security aren’t fixed, they’ll go bankrupt.

Two years ago, Westerman defeated a former Clinton Administration official, James Lee Witt. This year, Democrats did not field a candidate for the seat.


8:12 p.m.

Arkansas Republican John Boozman has been re-elected to the Senate, defeating a former U.S. attorney who repeatedly criticized Boozman over his support for Donald Trump.

Boozman won his second Senate term by defeating Democrat Conner Eldridge in Tuesday’s election.

In their only face-to-face debate ahead of the election, Eldridge last month criticized Boozman for backing Trump, saying the GOP presidential nominee couldn’t be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes. Boozman in turn ran ads critical of Eldridge, calling him President Barack Obama’s “gift” to the state. In last month’s debate, Boozman criticized Eldridge for supporting the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

The two differed on the Affordable Care Act, called “Obamacare” by its critics. Eldridge said repealing the law would leave 300,000 Arkansans who are on the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion without medical insurance. Boozman has cast numerous votes in favor of repealing the 2010 law.


8:10 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump has taken Arkansas’ six electoral votes by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state where she served as first lady for 12 years.

Arkansas’ political landscape has changed greatly since Bill Clinton was governor and president. Republicans have won Arkansas in each presidential election since Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996. The GOP also controls Arkansas’ Legislature and congressional delegation.

Trump carried Arkansas during the primary season, though he split delegates with Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. With Arkansas leaning to the right politically, there was no need for Trump to visit after he won the state’s primary in March.

Except for years when Clinton was on the ticket, Republicans have won Arkansas in every presidential election since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976.


8:03 p.m

Republican congressman Rick Crawford is heading back to Washington for a fourth term from eastern and northern Arkansas.

The incumbent defeated Libertarian Mark West in Tuesday’s election. The Democrats did not field a candidate.

While both candidates said they would work to repeal the nation’s health care law and to open trade with Cuba, they differed on how to best to reduce government spending. West said he would end expensive military operations, while Crawford suggested during a debate last month that he’d implement a government hiring freeze.

Crawford accused his opponent of being “socially liberal.” West said after last month’s debate that he opposes abortion and also says the government shouldn’t be involved in issuing marriage licenses.


8 p.m.

Republican congressman Steve Womack has won a fourth term to Congress from northwestern Arkansas.

Womack turned back a challenge from Libertarian Steve Isaacson in Tuesday’s election. Isaacson claimed during the campaign that Womack hadn’t adequately helped veterans during his three terms in office. The incumbent said he had helped specific veterans and that, in general, he worked to boost funding for Veterans Affairs programs.

Isaacson said after a debate last month that he had intended to challenge Womack in the Republican primary but didn’t qualify for the ballot in time. In the presidential race, Isaacson backed Republican Donald Trump instead of the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson.

Last month, Isaacson also acknowledged being convicted of identity theft in 2009 amid a dispute over a satellite TV bill.


7:30 p.m.

Polls have closed in Arkansas, with the presidential race still too early to call.

Officials reported brisk turnout at the polls Tuesday as voters made their picks for president and Congress and weighed in on several ballot measures, including one that would legalize medical marijuana.

Elections officials say more than 600,000 voters cast ballots during Arkansas’ two-week early voting period and predicted that about 70 percent of the state’s 1.7 million registered voters would cast ballots during this election.

Although Hillary Clinton was Arkansas’ first lady for 12 years when her husband was governor of the state, voters in the increasingly conservative state are expected to back Republican Donald Trump.

Voters were also deciding several ballot measures, including the medical marijuana issue and whether to allow the governor to retain his or her powers while traveling out of state.


5:15 p.m.

Arkansas’ Secretary of State’s Office says more than 606,000 residents cast ballots during the state’s two-week early voting period, and another 28,000 voted absentee.

Before voting began, election officials predicted that about 70 percent of the state’s 1.7 million registered ballots would vote this election.

No major problems have been reported at polling places throughout Arkansas as voters decide the presidential contest, congressional seats and other races.

Voters will also decide four ballot issues, including whether to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas.


2:25 p.m.

Polling shows Arkansas voters are narrowly divided over a proposal to allow patients suffering from a host of ailments to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries. A similar proposal lost by less than 30,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast four years ago.

In Little Rock, 29-year-old middle school teacher Megan McCain, 29, said Tuesday that she voted for the proposal after voting against the similar measure four years ago. McCain says she has family members with health issues and is curious whether medical marijuana would help them.

Also in Little Rock, property management rental assistant Cleo Porter voted against the plan. Porter said she’s worried that it wouldn’t be regulated enough.


8:15 a.m.

Lines were long at polling places as polls opened across Arkansas for the 2016 general election.

The polls opened at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after more than 587,000 Arkansans voted early, including Selena Ellis of Benton who voted Monday, the final day of early voting.

Ellis said she cast her ballot for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, calling her “the most qualified person that has ever run for this office.”

In Little Rock, plumber Dwayne Boggan also voted Monday and said he voted for Republican Donald Trump largely because he despises Clinton.

Boggan said he agrees with Trump’s stance on immigration and calls for building a border wall with Mexico.

Polls are open until 7:30 p.m.


7:30 a.m.

Polls have opened across Arkansas for the 2016 general elections.

Polls opened at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and remain open until 7:30 p.m.

Election officials say more than 587,000 Arkansans voted early and the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office has predicted a 70 percent turnout of the state’s 1.7 million registered voters.

In addition to the presidential race, voters are deciding a race for the U.S. Senate and for all four U.S. House seats from the state and many seats in the state Legislature.

Voters are also deciding whether to legalize medical marijuana, allowing patients suffering from a host of ailments to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries


12:25 a.m.

Arkansas is poised to give its six electoral votes to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and perhaps become the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana.

Polling before Tuesday’s election showed Trump leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by double digits in the state where she served as first lady for 12 years, a sign of how much the once reliably blue state has turned red in recent years. Republicans control all of Arkansas’ statewide and federal offices, as well as a majority in both chambers of the Legislature.

Voters have also been divided over a proposal that would allow patients suffering from a host of ailments to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries. A similar proposal lost narrowly in the 2012 election.

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