Across the state of Arkansas this week, political hopefuls will enter the field for voting season. Early voting for this primary will begin May 5 and run through May 19.

In Arkansas, the nonpartisan judicial election is held at the same time as the partisan preferential primaries. For the first time this year, prosecuting attorneys will be included in the nonpartisan judicial primary.

Voters casting ballots for either Republicans or Democrats at the primary also will have the chance to vote in the judicial races. Those who choose not to vote in either preferential primary can vote in just the judicial races.

Also new this year, voters will be required to show legal ID when they arrive at their polling places. According to the Secretary of State’s website, acceptable IDs are photo IDs issued by the state or federal government. They include a driver’s license, a college ID, a passport, a military ID, a concealed carry permit and a state or federal employee badge.

If the ID has an expiration date, it cannot have expired more than four years before the election in which you are voting. You may also contact your county clerk to get a free voter ID card. An application that spells out what is required to get that card also is available at the Secretary of State’s website,

Those who arrive at their voting places without ID will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, which will be accepted if they provide appropriate ID by the Monday following the election. Those who vote by absentee ballot should include a photocopy of their ID (Do not put your driver’s license in the mail, we are cautioned). If they do not, their vote will not be counted. According to an opinion from the Arkansas Attorney General, current law does not provide a "cure period" for absentee ballots.

With all of the controversy surrounding the new ID requirements for voting, maybe we should just put a picture on the voter ID card, or better yet, combine the hunting permit with the voter ID card and just call it an Open Season pass.

Although Sebastian County considered offering a third early-voting site, in addition to those at the Fort Smith and Greenwood courthouses, in the final push for a budget, justices of the peace removed the $12,937 allocation previously approved.

Voting is not as simple as it used to be. Make certain you know where your polling place is, have the ID you will need, and inform yourself about the candidates. The cost for the democracy we enjoy is rising along with the need for responsible voting. Election season 2014 officially opened Monday.

So far, the only two to announce their bid to run for Greenwood Mayor are Doug Kinslow and Alex Selkirk. Check the Greenwood Democrat for weekly updates and opinions. Selkirk’s announcement ran on February 5 and Kinslow’s is in this edition.