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Arkansas lawmaker adds affidavit option to voter ID bill

by ANDREW DeMILLO The Associated Press | February 18, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- A Republican legislator who wants to reinstate Arkansas' voter ID law has proposed adding a way for people who don't show identification to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a statement.

Opponents of the law say the change doesn't erase their concerns that the requirement will disenfranchise thousands of Arkansas voters.

The amendment filed late Thursday afternoon to the House-backed voter ID bill would allow someone who doesn't show identification to sign a sworn statement under penalty of perjury at the polling site. The ballot would be counted unless the county board of election commissioners finds it invalid based on other grounds.

"What we're trying to put in is something that improves confidence in the integrity of the ballot without unduly disenfranchising voters who for whatever reason don't have ID," Rep. Mark Lowery said. "I think it serves as a needful deterrent for anyone who would want to commit election fraud."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which opposes the measure, called the amendment an improvement but said it still opens the door for voters to be disenfranchised.

"Anytime you have provisional ballots there's always a question about whether they will or will not be counted," ACLU of Arkansas Legal Director Holly Dickson said.

The proposal already allowed people without ID to cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if they returned by the county board of election commissioners by noon the following Monday with identification.

Arkansas' Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of the state's voter ID law in 2014. The voter ID legislation is aimed at addressing a concern three of the court's seven justices raised that the prohibition didn't pass with enough votes in the Legislature when it was enacted in 2013. The proposal will need two-thirds support in both chambers, a threshold it easily cleared in the House. Republicans control both the House and Senate.

Lowery said he expects to present his bill to the all-Republican Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he generally supports voter ID but has not said whether he'd sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk.

State Desk on 02/18/2017

Print Headline: Arkansas lawmaker adds affidavit option to voter ID bill


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