UACES Facebook Thousands of Arkansas Voters Skipped Ballot Issues
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Thousands of Arkansas Voters Skipped Ballot Issues

by Kristin Higgins - November 15, 2022

Thousands of people skipped over the statewide ballot issues when casting their votes on Election Day, resulting in less than half of Arkansas voters taking a stand on the four proposed constitutional amendments before them.

Recreational marijuana, religious freedom, direct democracy and special sessions for the legislature were on the ballot. And all four failed. This year's election was the first time in 62 years that voters rejected every statewide ballot issue. 

We take a look at voter turnout and how the proposed constitutional amendments fared.

Voter Turnout vs. Arkansas Adults

Throughout its history, Arkansas has suffered from low voter participation. The 2022 midterns proved no different.

The Arkansas Secretary of State's Office reports 1.7 million registered voters in a state with at least 2.3 million adults.

On Election Day, 906,597 Arkansans submitted a ballot or 50.4% of registered voters. Or 39% of the number of adults living in Arkansas, as of the most recent Census Bureau's Citizen Voting Age Population Special Tabulation chart from the 2016-2020 5-Year American Community Survey.

Table 1. 2022 Ballot Issues - Voter Turnout versus Arkansas Adult Turnout

Issues Total Votes Cast % of Registered Voters* % of Arkansas Adults**
Issue 1 852,545 47.4% 36.9%
Issue 2 859,598 47.8% 37.2%
Issue 3 868,289 48.3% 37.6%
Issue 4 892,046 49.6% 38.6%

* Percentage of all registered voters casting a vote
** Percentage of adults residing in Arkansas casting a vote

Arkansas Voters Skipped ...

Not everyone completely filled out their ballots last week. Thousands of people skipped over candidates or ballot issues, or "undervoted." 

54,052 voters completely skipped Issue 1, and at a higher rate than any of the other proposed constitutional amendments.

Proposed by legislators, Issue 1 would have given the lawmakers the ability to call themselves into special session. Currently only the governor has that authority. There's a nearly 40,000 vote difference between Issue 1 and Issue 4, which would have legalized marijuana sales and possession in Arkansas.

Table 2. 2022 Ballot Issues Results

Issues For Against Total Votes
Issue 1 333,059  (39%)  519,846  (61%) 852,545
Issue 2 351,195  (41%) 508,403  (59%) 859,598
Issue 3 430,352  (50%) 437,937  (50%) 868,289
Issue 4 390,013  (44%) 502,033  (56%) 892,046

Research shows voters skip over ballot issues they're unfamiliar with, preferring to keep the status quo when there's uncertainty. Yet the ballot title for Issue 1 was simple and easy to understand. 

We look forward to future scholarly research on this year's election results.