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House completes veto override on voter-ID bill

By Lee Hogan

This article was originally published April 1, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. Updated April 1, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.


The Arkansas House completed an override of Senate Bill 2, concerning voter identification, on Monday, April 1, 2013.

The Arkansas House on Monday completed an override of Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a bill that will require Arkansas voters to present photo identification before casting ballots.

The override passed the chamber, 52-45.

The Arkansas Senate completed the first leg of defeating Beebe's veto of Senate Bill 2 on Wednesday, voting 21-12 to override the veto. Each chamber, both Republican-controlled, needed a simple majority vote.

The Arkansas House delayed the override vote last week, failing to bring up the matter before the House convened Monday.

Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier, brought the override vote before the House.

Meeks said the bill has been one of the more, if not the most debated bill this session, and told his fellow lawmakers that their vote on this legislation would come up during re-election campaigns.

Meeks brought up concerns about voter fraud and said the legislation would answer some of those concerns.

"Senate Bill 2 protects the integrity of the vote in Arkansas," Meeks said.

Meeks told Democratic members of the House that he understood they were in a position of having to support their party's leader, but asked them to set aside their party affiliations in this vote.

"We work for the citizens of Arkansas," Meeks said.

Meeks was the only member to speak for the legislation. Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, was the only member of the House to speak against Senate Bill 2.

Walker said Meeks' concerns with voter fraud were unfounded and that he supported Beebe's veto.

Walker said the debate on voter identification goes back to the civil rights movement and said, "you won't find any House members of my color supporting this bill."

Beebe vetoed the bill last Monday because it was "an expensive solution in search of a problem" and would infringe on voters' rights. Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, will require the state to provide free photo IDs to voters who do not have one. The estimated state cost is $300,000.

Monday's vote by the House completed the third successful override of a Beebe veto this session by Arkansas lawmakers. The previous two overrides both dealt with abortion-ban legislation.

In an interview with Arkansas Online following the override, Arkansas American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Rita Sklar said she was disappointed with Arkansas lawmakers, as a whole.

"It's been a very bad legilslative session for democracy in Arkansas," Sklar said.

The Arkansas ACLU has said the legislation is unconstitutional and said it would look at its options after a decision from lawmakers.

"I think we're headed to court," Sklar said.

Sklar said the greatest affect of Senate Bill 2 would be felt by senior citizens, minorities, immigrants and women.

Sklar could not give a time table on when action would be taken against Senate Bill 2, but said the ACLU attorneys would study the issue and be prepared. Sklar said she was confident on the potential outcome in court.

"We don't undertake anything we think we can't win," she said.

Poll workers are currently required to ask voters for identification, but voters are still allowed to vote if they do not have an ID.

The bill will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, but only if the state has the money to issue voter ID cards.

Read more in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Comments on: House completes veto override on voter-ID bill

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forkedtree says... April 1, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.


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DessieWilson says... April 1, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.

Why should the state be required to furnish a photo ID for anyone? When my mother had to quit driving, she bought her own picture ID card, (no expiration) and kept in her purse in case she needed one.

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Vickie55 says... April 1, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.

Because, Hugh, that minimal charge for a photo ID is creating a barrier to keep very low-income people from voting. That $10 (or whatever the charge) might be all the single mother has in her possession right now, and food is a much higher priority than an ID.

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RBBrittain says... April 1, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.

@Hugh: Forcing people to buy ID to vote would be the 21st-century equivalent of the poll tax. IIRC, in AR (and most states) the poll tax was only $1 per adult male per residence per year -- but for many years, poor families couldn't afford even that UNLESS the local corrupt political machine paid it for them. (Not to mention back then many poll-tax offices would conveniently go out to break or lunch if an African American came to the counter.) At least this bill gets THAT right -- it provides for free ID in every county (at county clerks yes, but they can't close at will like they used to) *and* delays its implementation until that free ID is paid for.

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Concerned_Citizen says... April 1, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.

Is the DMV going to stay open 7 days a week so the working poor that don't get paid time off can get down there to get an id?!?!

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cricket1237 says... April 1, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.

The ID issue is a great idea, now just wish it was nationwide. Hopefully the US government will take heed. I am glad that the majority agree that this was the right thing to do.

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expat93 says... April 1, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.

Congratulations to our elected government officials.

It's about time they started cutting through the BS and started acting on behalf of the voting public that pays for everything.

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Scroggs says... April 1, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.

Beebe was right when he said it was "an expensive solution in search of a problem." Voter fraud is not happening on the voter level. Republicans only pushed this through because they want to make it even more difficult for people with limited time or resources to vote.

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SouthernGrains says... April 1, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.

How does this create voter fraud??? If anything, anyone can go and vote in another person's spot without a photo ID because there is no proof that the person is/n't who they say they are. If someone wants to vote badly enough and they don't have an ID, they will make the time to go and get their FREE ID.

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Anon74 says... April 1, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.

"Walker said Meeks' concerns with voter fraud were unfounded"
Right, I'm sure the poll worker who voted multiple times, or the people who voted for dead relatives in the last election were anomalies and were isolated to Ohio.

@concerned Cit - I don't get paid time off to go get my DL renewed, but I manage to get it taken care of ONCE every 4 YEARS when it expires.

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