Arkansas Senate Committee Passes Voter ID Bill

Feb 14, 2013

Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) testifies for his Voter ID bill in Ark. Senate Committee.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

  Arkansas voters are currently asked to show ID when voting, a new bill approved in Senate committee Thursday would require voters to show a government issued ID when casting a ballot.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill on a voice vote.

Its sponsor, Republican Representative Bryan King of Green Forest insists there is voter fraud happening in Arkansas and says the need for the bill is a simple one.

“To protect the integrity of the elections, I mean, we see in election after election here in Arkansas that they continue to say there’s no voter fraud in Arkansas, everytime I’ve brought up a bill they say there’s no voter fraud, well there’s voter fraud going on,” King said.

Opponents insisted the only voter fraud involves absentee ballots and, despite the bill, those would still be an easier target for voter fraud than votes cast in person.

William Elamin, who said volunteers his time in Lincoln County to drive older voters to their polling places, spoke against the bill.  He said it would affect elderly Arkansans and he said fraud isn’t what lawmakers should be focused on in the voting system.

“The issue that is going on with election is better education for poll watchers, we need more election monitors. These are the the election issues we have, not voter ID,” Elamin said.

Lawmakers went back and forth about the bill for almost two hours.

One issue that may have to be worked out is funding, there is no appropriation to pay for voter IDs for those who don’t already have a government issued ID.

Senator King told reports after the meeting that if the Secretary of State’s Office didn’t have money to carry the cost, the bill, should it be made law, wouldn’t be implemented.