Arkansas GOP Prepares Voter ID Education Campaign

Apr 4, 2013

Sen. Bryan King, Chairman Doyle Webb and Secretary of State Mark Martin speak to reporters at the Arkansas Republican Party Headquarters in Little Rock.
Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

While legal action is being promised regarding Arkansas’ new voter ID law, Republicans announced a program Thursday to educate voters about it.

State GOP Chairman Doyle Webb says “Operation Vote Arkansas” is designed to assist people who don’t already have a photo ID.

“Once the Secretary of State’s office and the local counties are prepared to begin issuing IDs, the Arkansas GOP will activate its county level volunteer organizations in all 75 counties to help any voter who contacts us with the need to obtain a photo ID,” said Webb.

The party says it will organize volunteers who will provide free rides to county clerks offices.

The announcement at the state party headquarters in Little Rock comes after the Republican-led Legislature completed an override Monday of Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of the bill.

The new law will take effect in January or when funding is available for the state to provide the photo IDs, whichever is later.  It's expected to cost $300,000.

But in the meantime, Rita Sklar, director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says they’re preparing to file a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing it will make it harder for some people to vote.

“They can do all the education that they want, but you will still have people for whom it will be a burden to obtain the papers they need in order to vote,” Sklar said. “There are people who have never driven. There are people with disabilities, who are poor, who are elderly, who have never had a state ID, who have never had a birth certificate. How are they going to obtain the documents they need to get the photo ID?”

Republicans say they are preparing for a legal challenge.

Governor Beebe suggested in making his veto that it would cost the state money to fight the legal challenge.

But Senator Bryan King of Green Forrest says others may help cover the cost.

“I think’s there’s some outside groups, I don’t want to get into detail, that would come and help defend… there’s been some discussion, but until something’s filed I’m not willing to talk about that yet,” King said.

Outside groups have also offered to help pay to defend Arkansas’ recently passed abortion laws.