Arkansas Republicans have officially overridden Democratic Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.
The Arkansas House voted 52-45 to override the veto Monday. Last week, the GOP-led Senate voted 21-12 to override it. Because of Arkansas law, only a simple majority is needed in each chamber in order to override a veto.
Beebe vetoed the bill last Monday, saying it is nothing more than “an expensive solution in search of a problem” that would unnecessarily infringe on voters’ rights. Critics say in-person voter fraud is extremely rare and that voter ID laws, which Republicans have pushed for in many states, are really meant to disenfranchise groups that tend to favor Democrats.
The new law will require state officials to provide a free ID to voters who don’t have one, a provision that’s expected to cost the state an additional $300,000.
Arkansas already had strong provisions in place to protect against voter fraud without imposing burdens on those voting. Under the prior law poll workers asked Arkansas voters for ID, but those voters are allowed to cast a ballot even if they do not have it, and acceptable forms of identification include photo-less options like government checks or a utility bills. Additionally, poll workers flagged all voters who didn’t show identification and forwarded the information along to elections officials for purposes of investigation and fraud prosecution.
Under the new law, voters without ID can cast provisional ballots that will not be counted unless they return with acceptable ID.
A similarly strict photo ID requirement was signed into law by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell last week. Laws in similar states have faced legal challenges, and the ACLU of Arkansas has indicated they may challenge this law as well.