- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Thousands of Arkansas voters cast an early ballot Monday for a November election that’s highlighted by the bitter presidential race and a medical marijuana legalization plan that remains in limbo before the state’s highest court.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin said 22,895 people voted early by late afternoon Monday, the first day of early voting, but cautioned the numbers only represented about two-thirds of Arkansas’ 75 counties. Martin’s office has projected that potentially 70 percent of the state’s 1.7 million registered voters will cast a ballot in the November election.

The predominantly Republican state has been mostly overlooked in the presidential race, with GOP nominee Donald Trump widely expected to win Arkansas despite Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s ties to the state as its former first lady. Arkansas has not voted for a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996.

The Nov. 8 election will also feature Republican Sen. John Boozman’s bid for a second term against Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge.

There are two competing proposals to legalize medical marijuana, though the state Supreme Court is still weighing a challenge against one of them. If the court disqualifies the proposal, election officials will be ordered to not count any votes cast for it.

Dominique and Jeremy Kennedy were among those who voted early at a downtown Little Rock polling site, taking their 1-year-old daughter Carmen with them. The two both voted for Clinton in the presidential race and also for both medical marijuana proposals.

“It’s either her or Trump,” said Jeremy Kennedy, a truck driver. “I’m pro-Hillary, but I’m really anti-Trump.”

Meanwhile, Cheri Johnson, an insurance agent from Maumelle, said she voted for Trump and also against both medical marijuana proposals.

“I like the fact that (Trump) is not the status quo,” she said.


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