by Countable | 11.2.18
Issue 2 would amend the Arkansas Constitution to require individuals to provide valid photo ID to cast non-provisional ballots in person or vote absentee. The state legislature would be charged with determining what forms of photo ID are valid, and whether exceptions to the voter ID requirement should be made. This measure would also require Arkansas to provide valid photo ID to eligible voters free of charge.
Individuals who attempt to vote without valid photo ID would be permitted to cast provisional ballots, which would need to be certified later to count.
A well-designed voter ID law would prevent voter fraud, protect election security and ensure that only those who are eligible to vote can do so. This would assure voters that when their vote is cast, it counts.
Voter fraud is incredibly rare, so this is a costly solution in search of a small problem. Finally, election fraud is already a crime punishable by jail time a fine — which are sufficient deterrents.
State Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-87), this amendment’s lead legislative sponsor, argues that mandated ID is already needed for many things in life, and voting should be among them:
“At every single step in life — using a credit card, checking in at a hotel — we have an ID. And the reason being, for security. The one thing we don’t have a mandated required ID is when we go to the ballot box. Our whole system is built on voter security.”
State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-30), who voted against this amendment in the legislature, contends that voter ID requirements across the U.S. have largely attempted to “disenfranchise large numbers of minorities, especially senior citizens.”
Research shows that voter fraud is extremely rare, and that voter ID laws also don’t significantly discourage turnout. Chris Cooper, head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, says:
“This is a rare issue where both sides are likely overplaying their hand. Study after study demonstrates that voter fraud is extraordinarily rare. For example, the state of New Hampshire just conducted an investigation [and] found 5 causes of fraudulent voters in the 2016 election. Investigations in Georgia a few years ago came up with similar results. From this perspective, the Republican Party is trying to pass a law to solve a problem that isn’t exactly pressing. At the same time, there is little evidence that voter ID laws suppress turnout.”
In Arkansas, there have been just three instances of election fraud in the 2000-2018 period. Two of those cases involved the fraudulent use of absentee ballots, and the third was duplicate voting.
The state legislature referred the Voter ID Amendment to the ballot mostly along party lines. 70 of 76 Republicans and three of 24 Democrats supported this amendment in the House, and 23 of 26 Republicans and one of nine Democrats supported it in the Senate.
In 2017, Arkansas’ state legislature passed legislation requiring voters to present photo identification as a way of verifying their voter registration. That law is currently being contested in state court.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / cmannphoto)
Written by Countable