GregLeding and I have prepared a bill for the fiscal session to address no-excuse absentee voting in November. Please ask your House & Senate members to support. We want this to be bipartisan. This is about all of us, just as COVID-19 is. https://t.co/E4vrlbyL5z
— Joyce Elliott (@xjelliott) April 5, 2020
Perhaps the world will be returning to normalcy by November. Perhaps not. But the most important election of our lifetime will occur then and it’s never been more important that voting is encouraged then, not discouraged by fear of joining voter lines.
We should have moved to mail voting in Arkansas long ago. Republicans won’t allow it. It would encourage, rather than suppress, the vote. In Congress already, the party of Trump is resisting efforts to ensure a full vote in November.
Recommended: UA-Monticello faculty member John Davis’ op-ed in the Democrat-Gazette calling for the state to develop a safe and accessible plan for voting in November.
One simple strategy is no-excuse-required mail absentee voting. By executive order, Gov. Asa Hutchinson allowed this in a handful of primary runoff elections. Writes Davis:
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all states have some mechanism in place to permit absentee voting by mail. Approximately two-thirds of states allow registered voters the opportunity to vote absentee without giving a qualified reason or seeking a permissible excuse, while roughly one-third–including Arkansas–require the voter to provide a reason for seeking to vote by mail.
…Arkansas could rest assured that–should we seek to permit absentee voting free of such a restriction temporarily–many states consider this a standard practice and see very few issues arise from the voting method.
The governor should issue a similar order for the general election and be sure money is available for local and state officials to handle a surge in mail votes.
Will Republican Hutchinson be as protective of the ballot in a general election that could spell the end of the Trump reign? He should say so now because preparations must begin sooner rather than later. (If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic.)
An even better idea is the proposal by Sen. Joyce Elliott and Rep. Greg Leding, both Democrats, to pass a bill in the fiscal session that begins Wednesday to provide for no-excuse absentee voting in November. It should be the law, coronavirus or no. It would take a two-thirds vote to get it before the General Assembly, which is planning for a super-charged session to pass budget bills and go home.
I hope Elliott and Leding are successful. But, yes, I will be surprised