On April 1st, the House overrode Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of new voter ID legislation, 52-45. The veto was overridden in the Senate, 21-12, on March 27. The legislation will become law in 2014.
”Our elected officials owe their constituencies continued and expanded access to the ballot,” stated Arkansas NAACP State Conference President Dale Charles. “Arkansas legislatures are choosing to move away from proven and fair identification methods towards a direction that could disenfranchise voters.”
While the legislature’s latest move reflects actions by more than a dozen states attempting to implement strict voter ID, the governor’s veto reflects the turning of the tide in key states whose executive branches are taking steps to expand the vote. Most notably Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who vetoed a sweep of restrictive bills late last year, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who has made restoration of voting rights a priority in the state for 2013.
“Gov. Mike Beebe made the right choice in vetoing the strict photo ID bill,” said Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director of Voting Rights. “But legislatures put partisan politics over democracy in efforts to push through legislation that result in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.”
Because the Arkansas voter ID bill, Senate Bill 2, affects the state constitution it should require a two-thirds supermajority of delegates to pass. However, according to previous reports at the time of the bill’s passing, the House Rules Committee voted that the bill was properly referred to the House from the Senate on a 23-12 vote.
Only a simple majority is required to override a veto.
In response to the bill’s passing in March the NAACP’s General Counsel, Kim Keenan, stated the following: “The right to vote is rooted in the United States Constitution and stricter voter ID laws raise constitutional issues at both the state and federal levels. States that seek to restrict or impede the right to vote strike at the very heart of the American way of life. We will stand ready to challenge any draconian restriction on the vote.”
If the veto is overridden and becomes law, it will take effect in 2014 or after funds are made available to the Secretary of State for the issuance of voter identification cards. According to a report by the state Bureau of Legislative Research, it will cost the state an additional $300,000 to implement the law. The current bill text does not allot training funds for election officials.
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