NOTE: The subject of Governor Hutchinson’s address this week is the importance of every vote. For newspapers with a publication date after election day that would prefer a different topic, the Governor has provided an alternative print-only address about the state’s response and strategy to concerns about COVID-19.
Governor Hutchinson’s weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
LITTLE ROCK – March 3 is Primary Election Day in Arkansas, and today, to emphasize the importance of voting, I’m going to share the story of a recent election in Arkansas that demonstrates that every vote is important.
In January in Pulaski County, they had a special election to fill the seat of State Representative John Walker, who died in October. None of the four candidates won a majority, which required the two top candidates to compete in a run-off.
When all of the run-off votes were in, the candidates were in an even tie. Over the next ten days, elections officials examined the results and found one more vote to count. It was an absentee ballot that a District 34 voter had mailed from Sweden.
That single vote gave the victory to Democrat Joy Springer, who will face Republican Roderick Tally on Tuesday. Both of those candidates probably have been sharing that story as they encourage their supporters to vote on Tuesday.
I have campaigned for public office many times over the course of the last forty years. And when I was watching the returns come in on election night, believe me, I fully understood that every vote really did matter.
The ballot box is an equalizer that gives every voter a voice in the governance of our cities, counties, states, and the nation. Often we have a chance to vote on laws that our fellow citizens have put on the ballot, such as the 2016 referendum that passed and legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas.
Legislators occasionally decide to put an issue directly to the people as they did last year. Legislators voted to allow Arkansans the chance to approve the extension of an existing half-cent sales tax that goes directly to the upkeep of our highways.
We will have at least a couple of opportunities this year to participate in our democracy in a tangible way. March 3 is Arkansas’s primary. Democrats and Republicans will vote on their presidential candidate, and voters in District 34 will choose their representative for the state legislature. On November 3, we will decide who will be our president for the next four years. In addition, there are judicial races in many counties. I know that sometimes the lines are long and voting takes time, but you may be that one vote that puts your candidate into office. Millions of Americans have written the history of our nation by participating in our elections. A trip to the voting booth links us to the past as we determine our future. Please take the time to vote. The vote that makes the difference may be yours.