People have been rounding up early voting totals based on the numbers choosing Republican or Democratic ballots.
Unsurprisingly, Republican voting is generally far greater than Democratic voting. There are more contested Republican primary races and some hotly contested major offices in a state that has moved solidly into the Republican column.
Only Pulaski County, among the counties I’ve seen, shows a slight edge for Democratic voters so far — 2,554 voters in the Democratic primary and 2,252 in the Republican primary.
But get a load of voting yesterday in Faulkner County, 685 Republicans and 115 Democrats. That six-to-one margin may bode ill for the non-partisan Conway school board elections, where the Republican-encouraged battle against education is in full flower. Race, sex, history, books. You know the drill. No fear too unreasonable to demagogue.
Or maybe not. I know some Democrats in Conway who are voting in the Republican primary to back the better of bad choices. Also, the school board races are non-partisan and so voters won’t know the leanings of the candidates from the ballot.
Let us hope.
Republicans have long wanted school elections on regular election days, not on their own day in September as they were for years, so more votes would be cast. The theory is that a greater number of voters, with less interest in schools, would be more likely to defeat tax proposals. The politicizing of school board races on a national level adds another troubling dimension.
Little Rock is having its school election in November. To the extent that the November turnout is more representative of the state as a whole, that might be the better choice for all school districts.
Another stray thought about the partisan divide in voter turnout. Non-partisan judicial elections will be decided in the May primary, too, unless a race requires a runoff. As I’ve mentioned before, candidates for Arkansas Supreme Court are increasingly identifying as Republicans as a political tactic. That could mean trouble for incumbent court members who are running, as they should, as non-partisan arbiters.