Thanks to an attempt by state lawmakers to give Arkansas a more influential voice in the 2016 primary elections, prospective candidates will have to throw their hats into the ring a few months earlier this election cycle.
In May the Arkansas legislature voted to move the state’s primary election from its traditional May date to March 1. The move allows Arkansas to participate in what is being called the “SEC Primary”. They will join Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia as they move their respective election dates forward in to allow their voters to have a more relevant say in the presidential primary.
Moving the primaries up three months has caused a shift in filing dates as well, with candidates now filing in November, 2015.
Party filing period will begin Nov. 2, 2015 at 12 p.m. and will end Nov. 9, 2015 at 12 p.m.
Although filing dates for candidates with party affiliation begin in November, non-partisan filing dates begin in July.
July 19, 2015 is the official first day for non-partisan candidates who want to file by petition and not pay a filing fee to begin circulating petitions.
Independent candidates who want to qualify for the ballot may begin to circulate petitions Aug. 11, 2015, with petitions due by Nov. 9.
Non-partisan prosecutor and judicial candidates may file petitions for ballot access in the non-partisan election without paying a filing fee from Sept. 10, 2015 at 12 p.m. to Sept. 17, 2015 at 12 p.m.
Party filing period will be begin at 12 p.m. Nov. 2, 2015 and run through 12 p.m., Nov. 9, 2015.
Nov. 2, 2015 is also the start of the period when a person desiring to have their name placed on the ballot as an independent candidate to file petitions, and all necessary affidavits and pledges.
Nov. 9,2015 is the lasat day a person desiring to have their name placed on the ballot as an independent candidate to file petitions, and all necessary affidavits and pledges.
Nov. 16, 2015 is the deadline for non-incumbent candidates to file statements of financial interest for the previous calendar year.
The deadline for the ballot draw will be Dec. 3, 2015. The order by which names of the candidates shall appear on the ballot shall be determined by lot at a public meeting of the county board.
Jan. 1, 2016 is the deadline for county clerks to make available applications for absentee ballots for the preferential primary election and non-partisan election. Due to this day being a holiday, the deadline will officially be Jan. 4, 2016.
Deadline for the county board of election commissioners to deliver absentee ballots to the county clerk for mailing to all qualified applicants will be Jan. 14, 2016.
Deadline to register to vote in the preferential primary and non-partisan elections will be Sun., Jan. 31, 2016. The deadline will be moved to Mon., Feb. 1, 2016 since the original deadline falls on a Sunday.
Early voting begins Mon., Feb. 15, 2016, for preferential primary and non-partisan elections. Polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Absentee ballot applications by mail, fax, or electronic mail for the preferential primary election are due by Feb. 23, 2016.
The last day for early voting will be Mon., Feb. 29, 2016. Voting will close at 5 p.m.
The preferential primary and non-partisan elections will be held Tues., March 1, 2016. Polls will open at 7:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m.
Early voting for a general primary runoff election will begin March 15, 2016 and end March 21, 2016. A general primary runoff election would be held Tues., March 22, 2016, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
A full list of dates and information regarding the 2016 elections may be found on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.arkansas.gov., or at the Montgomery County Circuit Clerk’s Office.