In addition to challenging the new Voter ID law, the ACLU makes the good case in this article by John Lyon of Stephens Media that Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office did a poor job of educating voters about it.
Martin’s office spent a whopping $45,000 on voter education. Holly Dickson, ACLU house counsel, says instructions on absentee voting forms and posters at polling places were inadequate to the task of preparing voters for the change. Evidence is abundant that she’s right in, particularly, huge disqualifications of mailed absentee votes, along with in-person challenges for lack of ID.
The article also mentions a problem that will be even bigger in November if the law isn’t enjoined or the secretary of state and others on the board of election commissioners don’t do something about widespread illegal interpretation of the law by election officials. Officials across the state illegally challenged voters based on information on photo IDs, which are to be used only for photo purposes, not to match against voter roll information on addresses and age. To date, I’ve yet to hear a word of concern about this from Mark Martin or any of his henchmen.
And giving a few radio interviews — cited by a Martin spokesman as proof of the office’s publicity effort — won’t get the job done.
But, you have to remember, Republicans intended this law to disqualify voters. It’s working, particularly in targeted groups — elderly, poor and minority voters.
I had to laugh at the defense by Sen. Bryan King, sponsor of the vote suppression law, of the pitifully small amount of education effort by Mark Martin — versus millions spent in some other states. He said one objection to Voter ID was its cost, so ,hey, they decided not to spend any money on education.
Standard disclosure: I’m a board member of a public interest nonprofit, the Arkansas Public Law Center, which is supporting the lawsuit over the Voter ID law. We supported the suit because we believe, as Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled, that it added an unconstitutional additional requirement to voting.