The NAACP’s Arkansas State Conference condemns the Arkansas House of Representatives’ passage of controversial legislation requiring voter ID for all Arkansas voters. The bill passed 51-44 in the House. It will now move to the State Senate for a final vote.
“Strict voter ID legislation, without proper allowances and implementation, has the potential to block too many Arkansas voters from the ballot,” stated Arkansas NAACP State Conference President Dale Charles. “The state legislature has a chance to make sure those steps are taken.”
The legislature’s latest move reflects actions by more than a dozen states attempting to implement strict voter ID. Most notably, Pennsylvania will begin implementing its voter ID law this year after a court temporarily blocked the law weeks before the 2012 election.
Because the Arkansas voter ID bill, Senate Bill 2, affects the state constitution it should require a two-thirds supermajority of delegates. However, according to Reuters news service, the House Rules Committee voted that the bill was properly referred to the House from the Senate on a 23-12 vote.
“This is a clear example of the continued attack on voting rights, despite movement in other states to actively expand the vote,” stated Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP Senior Director of Voting Rights. “It is part of an extremist agenda to disenfranchise voters at all costs.”
“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,” stated Kim Keenan, NAACP General Counsel. “States that seek to restrict or impede the right to vote strike at the very heart of the American way of life. We will closely watch the actions of the Arkansas legislature and stand ready to challenge any draconian restriction on the vote.”
If the voter ID bill 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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