What to know before yo go to the poll…

Picking a party will affect your ballot

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

One of the aspects of voting an election that includes regional, statewide, and national races is that voters will also be casting their ballots in county and local contests as well, meaning they will be deciding on races in which they may personally know one or more of the candidates. Voting in the March 1 primary comes with a twist, however. Before heading into the voting booth, voters will have to declare which party’s ballot in which they’d like to vote. Selecting the Democratic or Republican ticket will affect which races and which slate of candidates the voter will see in the booth. So, it then becomes a matter of preference. If you want to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, for example (and no, you can’t vote in both primaries), you’ll need to select either a Democratic ballot or a Republican Ballot, respectively (even if you identify as an Independent or a third-party voter) If you are a Bernie Sanders man, but you’re also a John Boozman fan, unfortunately you’ll have to decide which candidate needs your support the most and select the appropriate ballot. It’s the same for county and local races in which a candidate has filed to run as a member of a party. To ensure you have the opportunity to vote in the races most important to you, ask to see both sample ballots before voting. Also, non-partisan judicial races will appear on all ballots, as will the two measures related to the new Baptist Hospital tax redirection and bond issue. Remember, the primaries are party-centric, and the winners of the primaries in each race will determine which candidates will face off in the November General Election. And then you can vote on a split-ticket.

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