Senator Joyce Elliott reflects on her long legislative career and her new voter engagement initiative


State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, has yet to officially leave the Arkansas State Senate due to term limits, but she understands her time there is drawing near. When the fiscal session ended earlier this month, she likely voted her last vote as a lawmaker.

“It was emotional, but it was emotional in a good way. Well, one thing it wasn’t sad. I thought maybe it was sad last time, but it was emotional to the extent where it has been such a privilege,” Elliott said.

“I think we don’t think of it as a privilege enough that, on any given day, only 135 of us out of just over 3 million people can serve in this kind of position. And the other thing I think that l ‘made emotional, just thinking about all the things that could have been too, that just didn’t work out,’ she added.

Elliott said she balances that thinking with issues that have worked, such as expanding health care coverage and improving education. First elected to the Arkansas House in 2000, she served three terms in that chamber before being elected to the state Senate in 2008.

She recently started a new nonprofit called Get Loud Arkansas! Its aim is to encourage more civic engagement on the part of voters. It will encourage voter registration and efforts to influence public policy, much like a Georgia initiative led by former Democratic candidate for governor of that state, Stacey Abrams. Elliott agrees with the Abrams comparison.

“I’m absolutely channeling my inner Stacey Abrams because that’s how people need to understand this. I just noticed that over the years we had a lower percentage of people voting in 2020 than we did in 2018. And I know we’ll never be as strong as we need to be until we get to a point where more people are involved in the process,” she said. went to Georgia over 10 to 13 years, it’s a big state, and Arkansas is a small state, and a state where we voted a lower percentage than any other state in the country in 2020.”

“We have very good people running for office. And I thought, ‘I’m going to do something with the rest of my life. I’m going to be doing something over the next 10 years, and there’s nothing more important to me at this point in my life than involving Arkansans in civic engagement,” Elliott said.

Although Elliott has a limited life and is in her early 70s, there can still be speculation that she could run for another position again. She ran twice for the US Congress. Elliott says she’s pretty sure Get Loud Arkansas! anchor its political efforts in the future. When asked if she was done running for office, she replied:

“Yes. There are some really good people running for office and there have been over the years. Like someone said the other day, ‘Never say never.’ I say ‘no.’ I have no intention of running for another office. I think it’s a ‘never’, but I’ll be careful,” she said.

You can watch Elliott’s full interview in the video below.


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