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In the Nov. 6 election, Arkansans are told to provide photo identification before they can cast votes on, among other things, a proposal on whether to enshrine that requirement in the Arkansas Constitution.

Issue 2 -- referred to the people by the General Assembly -- would amend Article 3 of the Arkansas Constitution, adding a provision to require voters to present photo IDs before voting in person or on an absentee ballot.

Arkansas lawmakers in 2017 passed a law with an identical requirement -- Act 633 -- that's now in effect. The Legislature also referred Issue 2 to the ballot.

Republicans for years have tried to make Arkansas the 35th state to enact some sort of voter-ID requirement. The Arkansas Supreme Court in 2014 struck down a 2013 law on the grounds that it added a requirement to the voting process and it didn't pass with enough votes in the Legislature.

In a 5-2 decision earlier this month, the high court deemed Act 633 constitutional. It had passed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Proponents of voter-ID laws say they're common-sense security measures. Opponents, meanwhile, say they're unnecessary and unduly burden the poor and elderly who struggle to obtain valid identification.

State Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, was the primary sponsor of House Joint Resolution 1016, which became Issue 2. She said the measure would stop voter fraud before it happens.

"It's preventative," Lundstrum said. "Everybody throws deadbolts on their front doors. You want to prevent accidents before they happen. You don't wait until after. It's the same reason we all lock our doors at night."

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Holly Dickson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said more than 1,200 lawfully registered voters didn't have their votes counted under the 2013 law before it was tossed. She fears the same will happen under Issue 2 if it passes.

"Most people who vote don't have problems showing identification," Dickson said. "So it's hard for them to understand that there are some voters who have difficulty showing or getting an ID."

Issue 2 differs from Act 633 because it doesn't include a provision that allows those without valid IDs to sign sworn affidavits and cast provisional ballots. That concerns Dickson, who said it will likely result in lawfully registered voters losing their right to vote. She said if Issue 2 is approved, it will likely be challenged in court.

Lundstrum and state Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, who was the primary sponsor of Act 633, said lawmakers plan to include the provisional ballot component from Act 633 during the legislative process of implementing Issue 2 if voters approve it.

Lowery said he and supporters of voter-ID laws don't understand opponents' arguments that obtaining IDs is too difficult. He and Lundstrum noted that free, valid photo IDs are available from all 75 county clerks in Arkansas.

"I don't understand this issue of difficulty," he said. "What's difficult about having an ID? You have to have an ID to pick up a prescription or to get a job. There's a long list of things you have to give an ID for."

Dickson noted that an estimated 11 percent of Americans don't have a government-issued photo ID, and she said in Arkansas many rural clerk's offices are difficult to access, making it difficult for people in those areas to take advantage of the service.

The elderly and members of minority groups comprise the bulk of people without IDs, Dickson said.

Lowery also dismissed criticism that voter-ID laws are "solutions in search of a problem." He cited research by the Heritage Foundation -- a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank -- that has found 1,145 instances of voter fraud in the U.S. since 1982, and about 950 cases in the past decade.

The Democratic Party of Arkansas in its 2018 policy platform "opposes intrusive Arkansas voter identification laws. Supported by no evidence or facts, such efforts needlessly and egregiously disenfranchise Arkansans."

Reed Brewer, a party spokesman, said the state should issue voter-ID cards with photos on them if Issue 2 passes.

"If Issue 2 passes, the people of Arkansas have spoken," Brewer said. "The next secretary of state and Legislature should implement the new voter-ID requirement without delay. However, the state of Arkansas should commit to ensuring all registered voters know the rules and have government-issued voter registration cards that have their photos. If our goal is to secure the ballot box, that should not come at the cost of prohibiting any citizen from exercising their right, regardless of who they vote for."

The state Republican Party in its 2018 platform said voter-ID laws protect the "sanctity and security of the ballot box." The party chairman, Doyle Webb, attacked Democrats for opposing voter-ID legislation.

"Democrats are intent on creating universal voter registration and mail-in ballot laws while opposing voter-ID laws, which would create a massive loophole for voter fraud to occur," Webb said. "We believe the sanctity of the vote should be reliable, protected and accountable. When the referred voter-ID amendment is passed on the ballot, Arkansans will be further assured at the polls that their vote counted."

No ballot question committees have registered to campaign for either side of the Issue 2 debate. Issue 2 was the lone ballot proposal to escape being challenged in court. Opponents and supporters of the measure agreed that the proposal has widespread support and will likely pass with a large majority -- a conclusion backed by local and national polling.

Sunday on 10/28/2018

Print Headline: Factions call Issue 2 stifling, preventive


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    October 28, 2018 at 7:26 a.m.

    All we have to do is look to GA where the Secretary of State, a candidate for governor, has been unlawfully rejecting applications and votes on minute technicalities as well as mistakes on their own part. Look to TX where students were denied the right to vote because of a misinterpretation of residency at a HBC or failure to provide adequate early voting sites for students at several universities. Fortunately, after lawsuits were filed some of these situations were rectified.
    But it is this kind of attitude that Issue 2 was put in place by a Republican legislature. With regards to fraud, there have been more fraud cases in states with voter ID AFTER the vote was cast. In other words, the ID did NOTHING to prevent the fraud. It was other issue that resulted in the fraud. All the ID does is serve as a deterrent to those who may not have completed the numerous requirements to vote, creating what is essentially a poll tax.

  • Knuckleball1
    October 28, 2018 at 10:25 a.m.

    This puts an undue Burden on the elderly that no longer drive or never have driven. My Aunt had this problem recently when she went to a bank and didn't have a current ID. She is 95 years old and doesn't get around much, she has a expired Driver's License that clearly shows her picture and her current address, the bank finally let her cash her CD that she had bought years ago. I have a feeling if the bank had not screwed her around on trying to get her money (4 trips) that they would have refused because she does not have a current photo ID. My Sister had the same issue with a lady from her church, after 6 trips to the DMV to try and get a new ID, my sister finally asked the question, can she just renew her Driver's License and the answer was yes. So on the 7th trip, her task was finally complete but most people would have given up, My sister is hard headed enough she was not going to let this happen to her elderly friend. So everyone can say it is easy to get a photo ID, it is NOT...the rules change from person to person running the different DVM Offices.. My wife had this problem recently just trying to change the address on her Driver's License. She was required to bring Utility Bills, a copy of our marriage license and a copy of her Birth Certificate just to change her address. So for all of the Haters.... get a life and live in the real world for a change... this is an undue burden....that prevents a lot of people from voting but the party in charge is all about denying people the right to VOTE..

  • Cockeyedview
    October 28, 2018 at 11:24 a.m.

    Stop with the excuses! Show your ID and vote!

  • GeneralMac
    October 28, 2018 at 1:10 p.m.

    The ones crying that it puts a burden showing an ID have no problem showing an ID when applying for SS or welfare.

    "CAFETERIA STYLE " outrage.

  • ZeebronZ
    October 28, 2018 at 1:42 p.m.

    Even the elderly should be able to prove who they are. A Medicare or SS ID should do the trick. Aside from that, everyone should have to show an ID. Why would you NOT have one?

  • RBear
    October 28, 2018 at 2 p.m.

    zeebronz you said a Medicare or SS ID should do the trick. Maybe you need to read the ballot language and the current law. That is NOT the case.

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    October 28, 2018 at 3:48 p.m.

    which "rural" clerk's office in the state of Arkansas is difficult to get to ?If the poor can get to a DHS office surely they can make it to the clerk's office. I'm pretty sure the area agency on aging can assist an older person in getting a photo ID. which i've always had to have when I visit the Social Security office. Democrats make it sound like the elderly and the poor are helpless. Most communities in Arkansa have church groups that will help anybody that asks for help. I have to show a photo ID each and every time I have a medical test performed. am i the only one ?

  • RBear
    October 28, 2018 at 5:46 p.m.

    boxer so when I read your comment, I see a lot of red tape and process to try to get an ID to prevent what, one or two cases of voter fraud? In TX with over 15 million registered voters, they have recorded about a handful of fraud cases. When they report one, Abbott acts like he caught a serial killer with his response as if to TRY to make it bigger a problem than it is.
    This is all about voter intimidation to make the elderly go through a gauntlet to vote.

  • NoUserName
    October 28, 2018 at 6:38 p.m.

    "Lowery also dismissed criticism that voter-ID laws are "solutions in search of a problem." He cited research by the Heritage Foundation -- a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank -- that has found 1,145 instances of voter fraud in the U.S. since 1982, and about 950 cases in the past decade."
    How many people vote in each election? 1,145 cases in nearly 40 years sounds like a really, really, really, really small percentage and would be the definition of a solution in search of a problem.

  • RBBrittain
    October 28, 2018 at 10:11 p.m.

    @NUN: And that's pro-voter ID statistics you're quoting, which includes such frauds as the Hudson Hallum absentee ballot fraud, which voter ID would NOT have prevented. (In fact, requiring a copy of ID with absentee ballots may actually help facilitate Hallum-style frauds.) Less than 100 of those cases might have been prevented by voter ID. Voter ID is more about suppressing the votes of people who don't jump thru the right hoops.