Arkansas House panel advances voter ID bill

    8:36 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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    Video: Arkansas House panel advances voter ID bill

    (Photo: Thinkstock)

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A bill requiring a photo I.D. to vote passed in a House Committee Wednesday. The bill's sponsor said this measure would ensure security in Arkansas elections, but those who oppose say it could stifle turnout.

    "We continue to hear the same things about the verbal assaults on this, and I always say if their attacking you verbally in your intent, then you must be right on the facts," said Senator Bryan King, the bill's sponsor.

    While King said the bill will mend a vulnerable system, Representative John Walker said the measure could hinder turnout, specifically deterring minorities and the elderly.

    "It has a racial impact, and it's designed in effect to favor those who are already more favored than others. Therefore... [it's] keeping entrenched in power those who have the greatest amount of resources," explained Walker.

    Those without a photo I.D. will be able to get one for free from the secretary of state's office or the county clerk's office, according to the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union said if the bill becomes law a lawsuit will soon follow.

    "This does nothing to but add additional red tape burdens between the voter and the ballot box," said Holly Dickson, ACLU Legal Director.

    King said other states with similar laws showed no sign of drop off in voter turnout.
    "I don't see it. Other states haven't seen that kind of decrease. We've had situations where an elderly person, the same day they want to go to the polls and vote, they can certainly go to the clerk's office," said King.

    According to King, the machines needed to make photo I.D.s will cost the state $300,000. He said if it passes, the Secretary of State's Office will be able to educate the public through their regular process, and it will not require more funding.

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