The Senate today completed action on HB 1112 to strip voting law of the ability to attest to identify by sworn statement and absolutely require a photo ID.
The vote was 25-9, one more than necessary because it was a vote to alter a constitutional amendment.
The bill, which had passed the House earlier, was sold as a demonstration of election integrity. But the lead sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Mark Johnson, followed the House sponsor, Rep. Mark Lowery, in being unable to demonstrate any vote cast by affidavit rather than ID was fraudulent.
Johnson tried, as he has before, to bring up some erroneous counting of some 300 provisional ballots that had been disqualified in Pulaski County. This had nothing to do with voter ID. As Sen. Linda Chesterfield noted, those were disqualified for a variety of reasons, including mismatched signatures (Arkansas is one of only four states that uses the discredited practice of signature matching) some as small as a missing ZIP code.
Chesterfield said the requirement will reduce the number of people voting. Many don’t have IDs or the means to get them.
Sen. Jason Rapert said low voting in Arkansas isn’t because of a voter ID rule. He said election integrity was paramount. He trotted out the familiar argument that many businesses require IDs for use of credit cards. The difference is that to obtain a ballot, voters must give their proper name, birthday and address and they must swear, under penalty of prosecution, that they are who they say they are. Furthermore, there have been virtually no cases of voter ID fraud in Arkansas. The ID is required currently, but the affidavit is offered as an option. Some 2,700 were cast that way in 64 counties in 2020. Some of those will not vote in the future under this legislation.
“When they say it isn’t about voter suppression, it’s about voter suppression,” Sen. Keith Ingram said. “It’s a problem for a solution that doesn’t exist. Nothing is ever brought before us that is valid. [About vote suppression.] It is always hearsay.”
Sen. Joyce Elliott says fewer people will vote as a result of the legislation. She said it is a continuation of decades of incremental attacks on the voting rights legislation of the 1960s.