Our country has a troubled history of making it difficult for some people to vote. And how. We still have a couple of years to go before we celebrate the centennial of women's suffrage. And don't get us started on Jim Crow. But, it must be realized, We the People have made some good progress over the last few decades of expanding voting rights. And with election day officially behind us, it probably wouldn't hurt to take a moment to applaud Arkansas' system.
The jury is still out on states like Georgia and North Dakota. (The courts will rule concerning them, probably soon.) But here in Arkansas, recent cries about our voter ID law "disenfranchising" voters fell silent through the last election period when results spoke for themselves.
Not only did our own Supreme Court uphold the state's revised voter ID law, evidence of much higher voter turnout than the 2014 midterms should serve as proof our state isn't actively suppressing votes by anyone. (As Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up. In this year's governor's race, more'n 100,000 people voted as compared to 2014.)
Opponents of our state's voter ID law claimed that requiring voters to purchase an identification card in order to cast a ballot was essentially a poll tax. But that argument falls apart when you realize our state law allows voters to receive a voter ID card without charge from the local county clerk.
Unable to vote on election day? Arkansas allows a registered voter to visit any polling place two weeks before election day for early voting. To make voting even easier, Arkansas has absentee ballots for those who simply cannot make it to a polling station. Forget your ID? A helpful poll worker will provide you with a provisional ballot. Then you just show up later with your identification, and your ballot will be counted just like anybody else's.
Voter suppression in Arkansas? If anything, our state makes it pretty easy to vote in each and every election.
That's not to say the system is perfect. This voter registration by mail business is antiquated and needs to be brought into the 21st century. It's 2018, and our Legislature needs to create an online voter registration system. It's a bipartisan issue with legislators like Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) and Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R-Clarksville) both expressing support for a hypothetical bill that would make this a reality.
This is how we form a more perfect union. By getting a little more perfect every few years.
Editorial on 11/13/2018