It’s the vote suppression bill that refused to die, SB 485 to stop counties from offering early voting on Monday the day before the election.
It’s the last bill yet to be completed from a roster of Republicans bills aimed at suppressing the vote by making it harder to vote absentee, potentially limiting polling places and usurping control of elections from local elected officials in favor of Republican Party appointees and legislators.
Opponents call this last one the “zombie bill.” It was revived yet again in a hurry-up rump meeting of a committee yesterday so it could be considered on what was planned (but may not be) the last day of the session.
A news release:
Groups from across the state are gathering at the Arkansas State Capitol tomorrow, Tuesday, April 26 at 9:15 a.m. to host a press conference and oppose zombie voter suppression bill SB485.
SB485, sponsored by Senator Kim Hammer (R-Benton) died in the Senate State Agencies Committee three times before it advanced to the Senate floor on April 22. This morning, the bill failed to pass a fourth time in the House State Agencies Committee, but later advanced to the House following an abrupt special meeting of the committee this afternoon.
SB485 proposes to shorten the early voting period in the state, eliminating the Monday before Election Day as an early voting option and shortening voting hours on the Saturday before Election Day. Over 51,000 Arkansans voted on this Monday in 2020.
“SB485 has been rejected every single time it has been given a fair hearing, but some lawmakers are still trying to bypass the rules to get their way,” said CFC Policy Director
Kymara Seals. “Arkansans see through these last-ditch efforts to undermine their constitutional right to vote.”
Arkansas ACLU, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Education Association, Arkansas Citizens First Congress, Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus, Arkansas NAACP, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Arkansas United, Disability Rights Arkansas, For AR People, Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas, and League of Women Voters of Arkansas are sponsors.
I don’t like their odds, though this bill had opposition from some Republicans, including the county clerk in the Republican fortress of Benton County.