Major funding for "Election 2020: Arkansas PBS Debates" is provided by AARP Arkansas.

Election 2020: Arkansas PBS Debates

Before casting your ballot this fall, get to know the candidates and their stances on important issues.

Candidates in four races have agreed to participate in "Election 2020: Arkansas PBS Debates," which will tape and air on the Arkansas PBS Oct. 12-14.

All debates will be held at the Arkansas PBS Studios, 350 South Donaghey, Conway, AR on the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway. Debates will also stream live on and

In addition to keeping viewers informed about the candidates, Arkansas PBS will also produce "Election 2020: Ballot Initiatives." The proposed initiatives that have reached the ballot will be discussed in this 30-minute program produced in conjunction with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. "Election 2020: Ballot Initiatives" will premiere Sunday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Debates will repeat Sundays, Oct. 18, beginning at 1 p.m.
Ballot initiatives will repeat Sunday, Oct. 11, at 10 a.m.

Major funding for "Election 2020: Arkansas PBS Debates" is provided by AARP Arkansas.

Watch Online

Debates for U.S. Congressional Districts 2, 3 and U.S. Senate will be rebroadcast Sunday, Oct. 18, beginning at 1 p.m. "Ballot initiatives" will also be rebroadcast Sunday, Oct. 11 at 10:00 a.m.

Use of debates

All debates are offered free to any Arkansas media outlet that provides an email request for permission to use the shows in their entirety. The programs must be identified by announcement and caption with "This debate is provided by the Arkansas PBS;" Debates may be broadcast or streamed online with proper identification. Email for permission.

Video and audio clips may be used in news reports, but no audio portions may be lifted and used out of context in any way. Excerpts must be identified both by announcement and by caption as a production from "Arkansas PBS"."

You may take the signal off-air or request in advance a dub, available in most formats. All expense for copies of the debates will be covered by Arkansas PBS. Please request desired format – pool feed, DVD, audio feed, etc. – at least two days prior to the debate.

Issue Election Information

There are three ways an issue can be added to the ballot for a vote. They are Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments, Initiated Constitutional Amendment and a Veto Referendum.

This year there are three Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments and one Veto Referendum. There were two Initiated Constitutional Amendments but they were removed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court on August 27, 2020.

Here are the three types:

Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment
A legislatively referred constitutional amendment is a proposal offered to voters by the Arkansas state legislature. They are allowed to offer as many as three every two years. A majority vote of both the state house and state senate is required for the proposal to be on the ballot. Issues 1, 2 and 3 are Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments.

Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments
This is a process where any citizen or group can offer an amendment to the voters if they follow a process set by state law, and show support for their amendment. They must collect a required number of signatures of valid registered voters and submit them for verification to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office. If verified and all procedures properly followed, it is added to the ballot. There are no Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments on the ballot this year.

Veto Referendum A veto reddendum is fairly rare. It is a citizen-initiated ballot measure that asks voters to either uphold or repeal a law that was passed by the state legislature.

A veto referendum appears on the ballot in the following scenario:

  • when lawmakers enact a new law and
  • an individual or group who opposes the law collects enough signatures within a certain timeframe to place that law on a ballot for the voters in the relevant political subdivision to either uphold or reject it.

Arkansas is one of 23 states that have a process for veto referendums at the statewide level. This year on the ballot, Issue 6 is a Veto Referendum.

Arkansas 2020 Ballot Issues

Arkansas Issue 1, Transportation Sales Tax Continuation Amendment

A "yes" vote supports continuing a 0.5% sales tax, with revenue dedicated to state and local highways, roads, and bridges, that would otherwise expire in 2023.
A "no" vote opposes continuing the 0.5% sales tax, thereby allowing the tax to expire once bond debt authorized in 2012 is repaid in 2023.

Issue 1 would amend the state constitution to make permanent a 0.5% sales tax, initially authorized by voters in 2012, with revenue directed to state and local transportation, including highways, roads, and bridges. The sales tax was temporarily authorized by voters in 2012 and set to expire in 2023.

The sales tax would not be applied to food or food ingredients.

The Department of Finance and Administration estimated that the 0.5% sales tax authorized by the amendment would generate $293.7 million in revenue based on 12 months of collections. It would be allocated in the following way:

  • 70% ($205.59 million) to state highways
  • 15% ($44.055 million) to county transportation
  • 15% ($44.055 million) to city transportation
* Source and more information here.

Arkansas Issue 2, Change State Legislative Term Limits Amendment

A "yes" vote supports this measure to impose term limits of twelve consecutive years for state legislators with the opportunity to return after a four-year break.
A "no" vote opposes this measure, thereby keeping the state's current 16-year lifetime term limit for state legislators.

This measure would change term limits of state legislators to twelve consecutive years with the opportunity to return after a four-year break. The 12-year limit would apply to anyone elected in 2021 or after. As of 2019, Arkansas legislators can serve up to 16 years throughout their lifetimes in the House or Senate. Those first elected to the legislature before 2021 would keep the state's existing term limit of 16 years except that they would be eligible to run for election again after four years had passed under the amendment.

* Source and more Information here.

Arkansas Issue 3, Initiative Process and Legislative Referral Requirements Amendment

A "yes" vote supports the amendment to change requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals.
A "no" vote opposes amendment to change requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals, thereby leaving the initiative and referral process unchanged.

This amendment would do the following:
  • require that a petition must contain valid signatures equaling at least half of the required percentage of signatures from each of 45 counties instead of the current requirement of 15 counties;
  • require a three-fifths vote of both chambers of the legislature to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to voters;
  • eliminate the option for petitioners to collect extra signatures for 30 days if the petition fails to meet the signature requirement but the petition has at least 75% of the valid signatures needed;
  • require challenges to the sufficiency of any ballot measure to be filed no later than April 15 of the election year; and
  • require signatures for citizen initiative petitions to be submitted to the secretary of state by January 15 of the election year rather than the current deadline of four months before the election.
* Source and more information here.

**Issues 4 and 5 were removed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court**

Arkansas Issue 6, the Practice of Optometry Referendum

A "yes" vote supports maintaining Act 579 (House Bill 1251), thereby allowing optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures.
A "no" vote supports repealing Act 579, thereby continuing to prohibit optometrists from performing certain surgical procedures.

This referendum petition effort seeks to overturn Act 579 (House Bill 1251). A yes vote on the referendum is a vote to uphold Act 579 while a no vote is a vote to repeal it. Act 579 was designed to amend the definition of "practice of optometry" to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures that currently are only performed by ophthalmologists.

Optometrists are eye care professionals that examine eyes, perform vision tests, prescribe and sell corrective lenses, and detect and treat certain eye disorders.

Act 579 would authorize optometrists to perform the following procedures:

  • injections, excluding intravenous or intraocular injections;
  • incision and curettage of a chalazion;
  • removal and biopsy of skin lesions with low risk of malignancy, excluding lesions involving the lid margin or nasal to the puncta;
  • laser capsulotomy; and
  • laser trabeculoplasty.

Under Act 579, the State Board of Optometry would establish credential requirements for an optometrist to become licensed to perform the authorized procedures. Optometrists licensed to perform the procedures would need to report the outcomes of the procedures to the board, which would be sent to the Department of Health.

Currently, optometrists can remove foreign bodies from the cornea, conjunctiva, lid, or adnexa. Currently, optometrists cannot perform surgeries that require anything beyond a topical anesthetic.

Currently, optometrists are prohibited from performing cataract and radial keratotomy surgeries. Under Act 579, optometrists would continue to be prohibited from performing the cataract and radial keratotomy surgeries.

* Source and more information here.

The Candidates

U.S. Senate

Tom Cotton*
Jonesboro, AR

Ricky Dale Harrington Jr.
Pine Bluff, AR

U.S. Congress District 01

Rick Crawford*
Jonesboro, AR

U.S. Congress District 02

French Hill*
Little Rock, AR

Joyce Elliott
Little Rock, AR

U.S. Congress District 03

Michael Kalagias
Rogers, AR

Celeste Williams
Bella Vista, AR

Steve Womack*
Rogers, AR

U.S. Congress District 04

Frank Gilbert
Scranton, AR

William Hanson
Hot Springs, AR

Bruce Westerman*
Hot Springs, AR

* Denotes Incumbent
For a complete list of registered candidates, including write-ins, please visit the Arkansas Secretary of State website.


AR-CAN – the Arkansas Citizens Access Network – provides unprecedented access to state government, giving Arkansas citizens a front row seat to legislative proceedings, board and commission meetings, and other government hearings and activities. The website is dedicated to livestreaming Arkansas state government events and meetings and serves as an important educational tool, allowing students to see their government at work while learning about public affairs and civic responsibility.

Be a Good Citizen

Our educators have created toolkits and resources for parents and teachers to help guide and engage children through the civics process during this election year. Find what you need here.

Voter Education

Want your voice to be heard, but don't know how?
The information on Arkansas Secretary of State website tells you everything you need to know about becoming an active Arkansas voter. Click here to visit Vote

Are you registered? Have you moved?
You may need to update your voter information. Use this easy online voter registration search to find out.

Need to update?
Contact your county clerk (PDF)

Are you sure where and how to vote?
You can check that out, too, by visiting All you need to know about voting in the Natural State!

U.S. Congressional Districts of Arkansas

Click map enlarge image.

  • U.S. District 1
  • U.S. District 2
  • U.S. District 3
  • U.S. District 4