The Senate today completed action on a proposed constitutional amendment to make a photo ID requirement to vote part of the state Constitution. The vote was 24-8, with three not voting.

The resolution had been approved earlier in the House. Final approval puts the measure on the ballot in November 2018.


Debate was limited. Only sponsor Sen. Bryan King spoke for the bill. Sens. Linda Chesterfield and Joyce Elliott opposed it.

Chesterfield said the measure would hit the elderly and infirm hardest. “If you’re in a nursing home, you’re not going to get a photo ID,” she said. She also questioned the ID requirement for absentee ballots and said people incapacitated at home would be reluctant to send a photo ID to “strangers.” She noted some 1,000 people had ballots invalidated for lack of an ID when a previous law, later struck down in court, was in effect.


“It’s a solution looking for a problem,” Chesterfield said. She said she knew of only one demonstrated voter fraud case in which a former legislator bought absentee votes, but even that wasn’t a case of voter impersonation that an ID law would have addressed.

Elliott also said the measure pushed something on people “where there’s really not a problem.”


She said, “The one thing we ought to do is make sure it is easy and less onerous to vote, not put up roadblocks.”

She urged senators to walk in others’ shoes.

“If  in your heart of hearts you know this to be a problem, you should vote for it. But if you can’t tell me to my face what the problem is, you need to vote against this.”

King, who’s been pushing for voter ID since 2007, said a future legislature could deal with objections about absentee IDs and said there simply hadn’t been time to deal with that objection this year. He also insisted there had been cases of voter fraud and made a reference to a report on “thousands” of “fraudulent” voter registrations. I’m aware of no such finding. There have been hotly disputed reports about a national voter database that allegedly turned up people registrations in multiple states. But closer inspection have shown some of these actually were different people. Some were simply cases where voter rolls hadn’t been updated. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a voter ID advocate, was registered in two places when she first ran for office.