Starting this New Year, Arkansan voters will be required to present photo identification at their polling places in order to cast a ballot. The Arkansas Legislature passed the photo id law earlier this year, following a trend set by other state houses around the country. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane says some voters will need id as early the second week of January, when some elections are set to take place.
Some of the laws requirments: “A license issued by the state that has you photograph and your name on it that has not expired more than four years; or a college id from an accredited college that has your photograph and your name on it.”
Crane says every county clerk in the state has the equipment to produce an id card free of charge for anybody who lacks one. But, he says, the challenge for officials is not producing the ids, but ensuring that everyone knows about the law.
“Many people, first of all, don't know about the requirement. Secondly, some people do not have a photograph id to present when asked when they go to vote in January,” he says.
The Photo ID law has been criticized by many on the left who say the new guidelines make the process of voting difficult for elderly and poor residents. Republican sponsors of the Arkansas law have said that freely distributing ids in each county will assuage those concerns.
“We will producing identification for people who need it,” says Crane. “We will be answering calls from people who simply want more information. And we will be doing our very best to make sure that no person is turned away at the polls for failure to have proper identification.”
The law passed when the Republican-controlled House and Senate overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Mike Beebe. Crane says the most challenging result of the law will be educating people of its requirements in time for upcoming elections.