Early voter turnout for a Fayetteville, Arkansas city ordinance protecting the civil rights of LGBT people was record breaking on Friday leading up to the general election scheduled for Tuesday, but official were prepared, 5News reports.
The special election for Ordinance 119 has drawn the attention of high profile anti-gay representatives, including Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, who made national news and became a conservative cause celebre for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The ordinance has been a source of deep local controversy, with Michelle Duggar last year recording robocalls encouraging voters to defeat it.
“We anticipated that turnout would be very similar to the way it was during the December election,” Election Coordinator Jennifer Price told 5News. “So we planned accordingly for early vote as well as election day.”
Poll workers have been seeing an average 900 people per day in the early voting period — similar to numbers that turn out for general elections.
In December, voters repealed the ordinance by a close margin — 52 percent to 48 percent. The ordinance was passed last August by the Fayetteville City Council, but a group opposed to it gathered the signatures needed to bring it to the voters in a special election.
The ordinance would have prevented local businesses and other entities from discriminating against customers and employees because of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion and other factors, 5News reported.
Last year, Michelle Duggar’s recorded voice told voters that if the measure passed, it would let “child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”
The Duggars’ reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, was cancelled earlier this year when it was revealed that their own son, Josh, had molested underage girls and the Duggars had covered it up.
Last month, the group opposing the civil rights ordinance had supporters escorted by police out of a rally that the public had been invited to. The Kleins had been featured guests at the rally. Their bakery went out of business after being made to pay $135,000 in damages for causing the LGBT couple they refused service to emotional distress.
The Kleins had shared the couple’s address publicly and went on a media campaign deriding them.
Watch the report from 5News here: