Student Voting Guide | Arkansas

October 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Arkansas.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state in which you attend school.  If you are interested in casting an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated October 15, 2014. 


The application to register to vote is available to fill out and print here. The registration deadline is 30 days before an election.[1] If you register by mail your form must be postmarked by the deadline.[2] You can also register in person at your county clerk’s office or at another state office, such as the DMV, a public service agency, or a public library.[3] You can register to vote if you will be 18 by the next general election.[4]  

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote.[5]  If you think you may be affected contact your county clerk’s office for more information.


In Arkansas your voting residency is determined by the fixed place where you live and where you intend to return whenever you are absent.[6]  It is a student’s choice to decide whether their voting residency is at their school address or their prior address.[7]

At School. Students can establish residency in Arkansas if they have a present intention to remain at their Arkansas school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[8]  Any other interpretation of the residency law is unconstitutional.[9]  In order to vote at your school address, you must not currently intend to return to live in another county or state and you must ensure that your voter registration is up to date with your current school address.[10]

Voting in Arkansas may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

At Home. Students who lived in Arkansas before moving elsewhere to attend school, and who wish to establish or keep their Arkansas voting residency (i.e., their parents’ Arkansas address), should have no problem doing so.[11] Like most states, Arkansas allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the district to attend school, and the only way you will lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state.  While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment residency in Arkansas, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Arkansas with the intent to reside here again, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register in Arkansas.

Challenges to Residency. Students have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Arkansas regardless of whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition.  If the registrar doubts your qualifications as an applicant for registration, he or she will submit your application to the county board of election commissioners to determine your eligibility.[12]  You can appeal any denial of registration within five days of when you receive notification.[13]  In addition, your residency can be challenged by other voters in the county to the county prosecutor, who can then file a court case to determine your residency or cancel your registration.[14]  Any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.

At the polling place, you can be challenged by a poll watcher on the grounds that you are not eligible to vote in that precinct.[15]  If you are challenged, you will have to vote a provisional ballot.[16]  Your provisional ballot will be counted if county officials decide after the election that you were registered and voting in the right precinct.[17]  Remember that any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.


While poll workers in Arkansas are required to ask voters for identification, most voters are not required to provide identification in order to vote and may cast a regular ballot without doing so.[18]

First time voters who registered by mail and did not provide an identifying number (driver’s license number, ID number, social security number) must must present a valid Arkansas driver’s license or photo ID card, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, or government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.[19] First-time voters without such ID will be able to submit a provisional ballot.[20]

Absentee Voting

If you will be unavoidably absent from your polling place on Election Day you can apply to vote by absentee ballot.[21] Absentee ballot applications must be received seven days before the election if sent by mail, email or fax.[22]  You may also request an absentee ballot in person at your county clerk’s office no later than the close of business the day before the election.[23] Completed absentee ballots returned by mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.[24]  If you return your absentee ballot in person to your county clerk’s office, you must deliver it no later than the close of business on the day before the election.[25]

You must submit with your absentee ballot a copy of a current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.[26]

Early Voting

As a convenience to voters, Arkansas has early voting beginning fifteen days before a general election (seven days for other elections) and ending on the Monday before Election Day.[27] At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county. Check with your county clerk’s office for locations.

Last Updated October 15, 2014

[1] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-201(a).

[2] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 9(c)(3)(A).

[3] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 5(a); Arkansas Secretary of State, Voter Registration Information, (last visited Aug. 9, 2014).

[4] Ark. Const. Art. 3, § 1(3).

[5] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 9(a)(1).

[6] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-201(b).

[7] Arkansas Secretary of State, Voter Registration Information, available at (last visited Aug 9, 2014).

[8] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[9] See Copeland v. Priest, No. 4-02-CV-00675 GTE (E.D. Ark. 2003), available at

[10] Arkansas Secretary of State, Voter Registration Information,

[11] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-201(b)(6) (a student is presumed to be a resident of the place where they established a home before starting school).

[12] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 9(g).

[13] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 9(k).

[14] Ark. Const. Amend. 51, § 11(g).  

[15] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-312(g).    

[16] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-312(h)(1).

[17] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-308(d)(2).

[18] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-305; State of Arkansas Voter Rights, Ark. Sec’y of State (last visited Oct. 22, 2014).

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-402(1).

[22] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-404(a)(1)(B)(3)(A)(ii),(vi), -404(d). 

[23] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-404(a)(1)(B)(3)(A).

[24] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-411(a)(1)(A).

[25] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-411(a)(3).

[26] 2013 Ark. Act 595 § 2 (to be codified as Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-201(d)(1)(B)).

[27] Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-418(a)(1)(A).