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Possible Problems at Polls From Voter ID Law

GRAPHIC: The Arkansas Secretary of State's office lists the kinds of IDs that a voter must have to vote. Graphic from the Secretary of State's website.
GRAPHIC: The Arkansas Secretary of State's office lists the kinds of IDs that a voter must have to vote. Graphic from the Secretary of State's website.
May 8, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Confusion caused by Arkansas's voter ID law might mean serious problems as folks go to the polls for the primary.

Last year's law requires Arkansans to present a photo ID to vote.

But it's under a legal cloud, and as with similar laws in other states, may be ruled unconstitutional.

In the meantime Rita Sklar, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas, recommends that anyone with questions go to the group’s website, or that of the Secretary of State.

And if you're refused a regular ballot because of an ID problem, she recommends filing a provisional ballot and getting in touch.

"They should request a provisional ballot, fill that out, and give us a call and leave a message that says, 'Let me vote' with their name and number and we'll get back to them," she advises.

The primary is May 20, with early voting before then.

The group is at acluarkansas.org or 501-374-2660.

The law's supporters say it will stop people from voting under someone else's name.

Sklar calls it a solution for a problem that doesn't exist – that voter impersonation almost never happens.

Much more common, she maintains, are voter suppression or intimidation.

Sklar says some living Arkansans still remember having to pay a poll tax to vote. Now they again risk being denied the right.

"These are people who've voted all their lives,” she stresses. “And suddenly they can't go down to the county courthouse and say, 'Hey, Bob, give me my ballot,' because they don't have the photo ID."

The state ACLU challenged the law on the grounds that it goes beyond the few voter qualifications stated in the Arkansas constitution.

One court agreed, although the case is still being appealed.

Sklar says the constitution's authors wanted to protect people's right to vote, much more than restricting it.

"When that was written, they wanted to ensure that nobody was excluded from voting,” she relates. “This voter ID law adds a qualification unconstitutional under the Arkansas constitution."


Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR