Arkansas Senate overrides veto of voter ID bill

Posted: March 27, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.
Updated: March 27, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.

The Arkansas Senate overrode Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of Senate Bill 2 on Wednesday afternoon. The bill would require voters to show identification at polling stations. In this file photo, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks at the state Capitol in Little Rock on Monday. Beebe vetoed a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at polls.

The Arkansas Senate voted Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.

The Republican-led Senate voted 21-12 to override the veto. The state House has yet to vote on it. Each chamber needs only a simple majority to override a veto in Arkansas.

Beebe vetoed the bill Monday, saying it amounts to "an expensive solution in search of a problem" and would unnecessarily infringe on voters' rights. The bill would require the state to provide free photo IDs to voters who don't have one at an estimated cost of $300,000.

Arkansas currently requires poll workers to ask for identification, but voters can still cast a ballot if they don't have one.

While Arkansas poll workers must ask for identification under current law, voters don't have to show it to cast a ballot. The identification poll workers can ask for currently includes forms without photos, such as a government check or a utility bill.

Under the new legislation, voters unable to present a photo ID at polling stations would be allowed to cast provisional ballots. But those ballots would be counted only if voters provide ID to county election officials or if they sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed before noon on the Monday following an election.

Republicans have been pushing for similar laws in other states, although the measures have faced court challenges. Voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have been blocked.

Arkansas Republicans had pushed for voter ID requirements for years, but the measure failed to reach the governor's desk under Democratic majorities. Republicans won control of both chambers of the Legislature in November for the first time in 138 years and have been busy advancing their conservative agenda, including passing more restrictive abortion laws and less restrictive gun ownership laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has called the requirement unconstitutional, and its executive director said the group was looking at its options after lawmakers gave the measure final approval. Opponents of the measure say it would disenfranchise senior citizens, minorities and the poor.

The bill would exempt voters who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Beebe said Monday he was vetoing the bill because voter fraud hasn't been shown to be a problem.

"At a time when some argue for the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy and for reduced government spending, I find it ironic to be presented with a bill that increases government bureaucracy and increases government expenditures, all to address a need that has not been demonstrated," Beebe wrote in his veto letter. "I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens."

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.

Good job, Senate, No ID, no vote. No ID, no drive. No ID, no beer.

Posted by: JailBird

March 28, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Since I was always asked for id at the polls, I was not aware that providing it was optional until all this came up.

Posted by: Dellmann

March 28, 2013 at 10:11 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

It's been so long ago that I registered to vote--didn't they ask me for ID then?
If so, why do I have to show it again at the polls when my name is already listed in the voter books in front of them?
Especially since there is hardly any motive for an individual to impersonate a voter except for possible fraud perpetrated by a candidate or election official.
That is the fraud that should be targeted.
None of the states that have passed these laws have demonstrated a problem with individual fraud.

Posted by: Coralie

March 28, 2013 at 12:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Does the legislature require a display of ID everytime they vote in the legislature?

Why not?

How can they take the chance that someone is not voting improperly with checking IDs everytime?

Posted by: User13

March 28, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

What is wrong with having to show an ID to prove you are who you say you are? It makes all kinds of sense to me.

Posted by: boyscout57

March 28, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

RE "How can they take the chance that someone is not voting improperly with checking IDs everytime?"
Especially when we know that there are errors in voting.

It is arguable that every voting error in the legislature is a case of voter fraud, in which case more voter fraud has occurred in this legislative session than occurred statewide in the last election.

Posted by: AlphaCat

March 28, 2013 at 2:21 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

There is nothing wrong with trying to make sure that the people voting are actually those people.

The problem comes when you setup the system to do that and it cause unnecessary hardship on some people to then get an ID in order to vote. In the past, people in power created a poll tax, and you could then eliminate people without enough money to vote from voting.

I agree it would be a good idea to identify everyone for voting, but unless the ID is able to be obtained with no effort and no money, it simply amounts to an indirect poll tax. And that it is passed by politicians that know it will likely impact the people that vote for the other party's candidates makes it look a little inappropriate.

Posted by: User13

March 28, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I should be able to buy liquor without an ID too. Liquor is a right and should not exclude the poor pitiful poor. How do people get in ID in order to buy a Bud? Gee what a hardship!!!

Posted by: JailBird

March 28, 2013 at 4:46 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

ec"The problem comes when you setup the system to do that and it cause unnecessary hardship on some people to then get an ID in order to vote"

If that is the best reason you Dems can come up with to be against voter ID, it shows you do not care about a fair election. You can just take busloads down to get their ID like they did to vote, of course, you may have to bribe them, but that is nothing new.

Posted by: mycent

March 28, 2013 at 10:15 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

>>I should be able to buy liquor without an ID too

I've bought liquor a thousand times without ever showing an ID. So have my girlfriend, both my brothers.

What is your point? Buying liquor is not an enumerated right as set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: cdawg

March 29, 2013 at 6:06 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

The sole purpose of this law is to suppress Democratic votes. Sen King knows it and Gov Beebe knows it.

If anyone with a IQ above a cat wants to rig or throw an election voter fraud is the worst possible way to accomplish it. The best way is rigging the voting machines. Why? Because the law gives voting machine company an exclusionary right to their software. You cannot audit it. You cannot check it to see if it's designed to properly count votes. All this thanks to Bush's HAVA.

The most numerous cases of voter fraud occurs in absentee voting. However, more Republicans use absentee voting than Democrats.
So, it's no wonder that Republican King's bill made no attempt to eliminate fraud or place any hardship on absentee voting.

I normally use absentee voting. All you need do is sign a little, brief statement that you are who you claim to be. There's no passwords, no other qualifications for me to cast a vote. Just sign the statement and put it in the envelope with my ballot. No ID needed.

Posted by: cdawg

March 29, 2013 at 6:14 a.m. ( | suggest removal )