One Pine Bluff, One Election Outcome: Which Voters Will Make the Decision?

A sense of community in Pine Bluff. Credit: Jamie Cunningham
A sense of community in Pine Bluff. Credit: Jamie Cunningham

Throughout her campaign and since, Mayor Shirley Washington has called for One Pine Bluff, undoubtedly to rally teamwork and a sense of unity.  A practical interpretation of this principle, however, may come to mind as Pine Bluff’s registered voters — some of them, anyway — begin early voting on June 6, 2017, in the special election for a proposed 5/8 cent sales tax increase; the actual election day is June 13.

Pine Bluff’s 2017 Special Election to Decide Proposed Sales Tax Increase

If approved, the additional tax revenue will fund some or probably all of the Go Forward Pine Bluff (GFPB) initiative.  GFPB, initially a task force established by the Simmons Foundation, recommended measures to improve Pine Bluff’s infrastructure, tax base, quality of life, and future economic growth.  Their recommendations included a 5/8 cent sales tax increase.  On April 3, 2017, the Pine Bluff City Council voted to put the proposed sales tax increase up for vote in a special election to be held on June 13, 2017.  Early voting runs from June 6 through June 9 and on June 12 (i.e., June 6 through 12, not including Saturday) at the county courthouse.  On election day, all 25 voting sites will reportedly be open.  (Please see information listed below.)

Voter Turnout Questions

One thing we should all ask is, who will show up at the polls?  Voter turnout tends to be lower in special elections than in general elections, especially presidential and gubernatorial ones.  Similarly, local elections typically have lower turnout compared to state and national elections.

Other factors that correlate with lower turnout are the demographics of younger adults and lower income voters.  The younger set may be less likely to be registered while lower income voters may hold jobs that make it difficult to take time off to vote, though other reasons may explain this pattern as well.  Both of these tendencies may raise questions about a state’s voter registration laws (e.g., how many days before an election must one register?) and voting schedules (e.g., are polls open long enough to accommodate varying work schedules?).  And, of course, a state’s registration laws potentially affect many, not just these two groups.  (Those who are not already registered to vote will miss casting a ballot in this special election, as Arkansas state law requires voter registration 30 days prior to an election.)

Regardless of general voting patterns, those who do vote this June are the ones who will make the decision for the entire city.  Given the interest in the topics — revitalization, perceptions of accountability, and taxes — Pine Bluff’s special election turnout may defy the odds.  Time will tell.

Pine Bluff’s June 2017 Special Election Details

Here are voting details (as reported by the Jefferson County Election Commission Secretary to the Pine Bluff Commercial), followed by a link to the Arkansas Secretary of State‘s resource for verifying registration and polling location.

  • Early voting:  June 6 through 12, 2017
    (No voting on Saturday, so June 6-9 and 12)
  • 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Jefferson County Courthouse
  • Election day: June 13, 2017
  • 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • Designated polling site.  Consult with the Arkansas Secretary of State (link below) or the county (either election commission secretary or county clerk).
    All 25 polling sites in Pine Bluff will reportedly be open.

For information on voter registration or election dates and locations, please visit the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Voter Information webpage.  This resource includes links to information on registration, absentee voting, and voting locations.  The page includes a Voter View option that links to specific voter registration look-up and, if applicable, absentee ballot status.  The Voter View page also includes a drop-down menu to look up dates of statewide or county elections.


PB Junction wishes to thank Jamie Cunningham for use of the featured image with this article; the photo was indeed taken at a gathering in Pine Bluff.

Ms. Cunningham is an Arkansas photographer originally from Plum Bayou, Arkansas, who has very kindly granted PB Junction permission to post some of her photos.

Needless to say, the content of this post, including any possible errors or omission, is the responsibility of PB Junction.  Likewise, the choice of placing this photo with this post was made by PB Junction.


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