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22,000-plus mail-in ballots requested in Little Rock area

22,000-plus mail-in ballots requested in  Little Rock area

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LITTLE ROCK — More than 22,000 mail-in ballots have been sent to voters in the county where Little Rock is situated, Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth said Thursday.

“That means approximately 8 percent of the electorate have the means to cast their vote before polls even open on Monday,” when early voting in the state begins, Hollingsworth said.

The street in front of the county courthouse in Little Rock will be shut down daily during early voting, according to city Mayor Frank Scott.

Voters have the choice of dropping off their ballots at a tent set up outside the courthouse, which is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, or in a drivethru lane at the site, according to Hollingsworth.

There are approximately 260,000 registered voters in Arkansas’ largest county, Hollingsworth said. That was about 15,000 more than in 2016, the most recent presidential election.

Hollingsworth said only about 8,000 mail-in ballots were sent to voters then.

Hollingsworth said voters can track the status of their vote on the clerk’s website by selecting the voter registration option.

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LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System wants to recover retirement benefits that continued to be paid out after two members died, resulting in overpayments of more than $323,000.

Clint Rhoden, the system’s executive director, told lawmakers Wednesday that one death was not reported to the system by the member’s surviving family, amounting to an overpayment of $306,000 over 23 years, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The second overpayment of $17,000 occurred because the agency incorrectly entered the notation of that death into the system.

“We are pursuing that $306,000 aggressively,” Rhoden said.

The system was able to recover a third overpayment of about $22,000 because family members of the deceased did not withdraw the money.

Deputy Legislative Auditor Tom Bullington said the system identified the overpayments through the implementation of new procedures in February during an audit of the retirement system for fiscal 2019.

Rhoden said a national law firm with offices in Oklahoma has been retained to represent the system in trying to recover the funds through court judgments. He said the FBI conducted a thorough investigation and declined to press charges.

The system has a number of ways to learn if a member living in Arkansas dies, but problems can arise if the member moves to a different state. “What we have determined in this analysis is really we need to focus on our outof- state retirees,” Rhoden said.

The Teacher Retirement System is the state government’s largest such system with more than 100,000 working and retired members and over $17 billion in investments.

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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring any unused or expired medications to one of the state’s more than 250 Prescription Drug Take Back Day drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

“Overdose abuse statistics are staggering, but cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can save lives,” said Rutledge.

“With overdoses on the rise during the pandemic, now more than ever we must continue to properly dispose of these prescription drugs.”

Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semiannually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.

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