Arkansas House Overrides Governor's Veto of Voter ID Bill

Apr 1, 2013

The Arkansas House on Monday completed an override of Governor Mike Beebe's veto of a bill that would require Arkansas voters to present photo identification before casting ballots.

The override passed the chamber, 52-45.

The vote was down party lines accept for the vote of Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock, who later asked to have his vote expunged indicating that it was a mistake.

Rep. Steven Meeks, R-Greenbrier, spoke for the bill saying voters want the added protection from fraud surrounding the voting process.

“We are trying to protect the integrity of one of the most fundamental rights we have here in America and as a matter of fact when I talk to citizens across the state they tell me time and time again that ‘this is a common sense solution, why aren’t they doing this? It doesn’t make sense,’” Meeks said speaking on the House floor.

Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, called the bill a “solution in search of a problem” in his veto letter.

“That would be like saying I should leave my car unlocked out in the parking lot because I’ve never had my car broken into,” Meeks said of the Governor’s critique.

The bill is set to take effect January 1, 2014 if the state has the funding to implement it.

It will require voters to present a valid photo ID at the voting site before casting a ballot. If they do not have proper identification they will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot and return by noon on the Monday following the election to present a photo ID to the election commissioners or county clerk for their vote to count.

Arkansas voters are currently asked to show ID when voting, though they are not required to do so. Implementation of the bill is dependent on the state providing free identification to voters who don’t already have it which is estimated will cost the state $300,000.

Opponents have said the bill will make it harder for poor, older and minority voters to cast ballots.

“I dare say that you will find any of your colleagues in this body of my color who will support this,” Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, said speaking against the override on the House floor. “It doesn’t matter what their [political] leanings are. And what you are doing in effect is saying that ‘we don’t care about what you think, we’re going to do this anyway.’”