Arkansas has enacted a new, improved voter ID law:
Under the new law, a voter who does not show photo ID at his or her polling place may cast a provisional ballot. The voter will be given the option of signing a sworn statement that the voter is who he or she claims to be, and if that option is chosen the county clerk will compare the signature to the signature on the voter registration card issued to that person to see if they match and the ballot should be counted.
Alternatively, a voter casting a provisional ballot may choose to show photo ID to the county clerk or county election board before noon on the Monday after the election to have the ballot counted.
The law also requires that a copy of a voter’s photo ID be submitted with an absentee ballot. It allows an absentee voter to sign a statement that could be used to verify the person’s identity if no photo ID is submitted.
The Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office would be required to provide for the issuance of voter identification cards with photos to registered voters who request them from their county clerk. The cards would be issued free of charge.
This is a model other states should follow: affidavit voters given provisional ballots that are verified before being counted, an ID requirement for mail ballots, and free photo IDs for voters who need them.
The Arkansas House approved a photo voter ID requirement in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment, passing House Joint Resolution 1016 by a 73-21 vote.
The proposal, if referred to the November 2018 ballot and approved by voters, would amend the Arkansas Constitution to include among the qualifications to vote a requirement that a person show photo ID before casing a ballot in person and include photo ID when mailing an absentee ballot.
HJR 1016 has been referred to the Senate.
Another bill requiring photo identification when voting in person or by mail, House Bill 1047, also passed the House and the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.
The Arkansas legislature is on track to again pass a photo voter ID requirement.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed HB 1047, which amends Amendment 51 of the Arkansas Constitution by requiring voters to “provide verification of voter registration” in the form of one of several types of government-issued photo identification.
The verification requirement applies to both in-person voting and ballots cast by mail.
County clerks will continue to issue free voter verification cards to voters who don’t have an accepted form of photo ID, something Amendment 51 already requires.
Under HB 1047, a voter who doesn’t show ID will cast a provisional ballot that will be counted if the voter later presents identification or signs an affidavit that the voter can’t afford a photo ID or has a religious objection to being photographed.
The bill also allows county election boards to provide information on voters who fail to verify their registration to prosecuting attorneys, who may investigate for possible voter fraud.
The bill now heads to the Senate.
“The state’s highest court heard oral arguments but did not immediately issue a ruling in the state’s appeal of Fox’s ruling striking down Act 595 of 2013, which requires Arkansas voters to show photo identification at the polls.”
Judge Fox stayed his May 2 ruling, so Arkansas’ photo ID requirement was in effect for the state’s May primary and remains in place.
Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly argued that voter ID “is not an additional qualification to vote. It is a method, as this court has approved, it is a method of verifying that your registration is proper.”
The case is expected to receive “expedited consideration,” as early voting begins October 20, but as Kelly noted, “the election for November has already started.”
The Arkansas Judiciary website has video of the October 2 oral arguments.
Arkansas’ highest court is set to take up a case this week that could decide whether the state’s voters will be required to show photo identification at the polls in the November election. The state Supreme Court on Thursday is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the lawsuit over Arkansas’ voter ID law, which took effect in January.
Oral arguments are livestreamed online.