Non-profit adjusts online form to register voters after pushback regarding electronic signatures

(File Photo/River Valley Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler)
(File Photo/River Valley Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler)

A nonprofit formed to increase voter registration said it is adjusting its online form to register voters after pushback from the secretary of state's office regarding electronic signatures.

Despite saying state law has no prohibition against electronic signatures being used to register to vote, Get Loud Arkansas said it has reworked its online form to accommodate guidance from the secretary of state.

In February, Secretary of State John Thurston wrote a letter addressed to all county clerks in the state advising them to reject voter registration forms signed with an electronic signature.

To comply with the requirements of each of the state's 75 counties, Get Loud Arkansas has updated its online registration voter platform so it "dynamically adjusts" based on what county the person registering to vote lives in. For those who live in counties that require a handwritten or "wet" signature, "the option for an electronic signature will be automatically withdrawn from the final submission stage," according to a news release Tuesday from Get Loud Arkansas.

"In light of recent communications from the Secretary of State and the need for unobstructed, efficient access to the voter registration processes, Get Loud Arkansas reiterates its call for constructive dialogue and action towards enabling all Arkansas residents to exercise their voting rights," the organization said in a news release.

Kristin Foster, deputy director of Get Loud Arkansas, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the group is still reaching out to around 50 people who registered online in counties that don't accept electronic signatures.

Founded by former Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliot of Little Rock, Get Loud Arkansas said it has received "conflicting advice" from Thurston's office regarding electronic signatures.

Thurston told county clerks in a Feb. 28 letter that he had received questions about online voter registration forms and electronic signatures and said his position has remained "unchanged."

"As Secretary of State, in an effort to maintain our strong election integrity that we have in the Arkansas election process, I strongly recommend that counties do not accept voter registration applications executed by electronic signature," Thurston wrote.

Whether electronic signatures are accepted may differ based on the county. Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth told the Arkansas Times last month that the county will continue to accept electronic signatures on voter registration forms.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 42 states, Washington D.C. and Guam allow for voters to register online.

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