After passage on a nearly party line vote by the Republican controlled state house, the Democratic Governor may veto the bill, having questioned its necessity.
Arkansas could become the newest state to force voters to provide photo identification before casting ballots.
The state Senate passed a voter identification bill Tuesday along party lines, after having already passed the House bill with all Republicans supporting the measure and all but one Democrat opposing it.
The bill forces anyone without proper identification to cast a provisional ballot that would not be counted unless they return with proper ID. Those acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, a passport, an employee badge, military ID, an student ID issued by an Arkansas school, or a welfare card.
It also requires county clerks to provide photo ID cards at no cost to registered voters who lack other acceptable forms of identification, which would cost the state $300,000, according to a report from the Bureau of Legislative Research. Opponents point out that receiving such a card requires identification documents that some eligible voters lack.
The bill now heads to Democratic Governor Mike Beebe’s desk for signature. He has not commented on whether or not he’ll sign or veto it yet, but has questioned whether or not it’s needed, since poll workers already ask for ID, but do not require it of those casting ballots.
It may not matter whether Beebe signs or vetoes the bill because the Arkansas constitution requires only a simple majority in each chamber to trump a governor’s veto. Republican lawmakers in the state proved their willingness to override vetoes by passing the state’s ban on abortions after 12 weeks.
Because it is not covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights act, Arkansas voting changes do not require pre-clearance by the Justice Department. However, Rita Sklar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, told Reuters Tuesday that her organization will probably challenge it in court if it is signed into law.
Similar legislation in Virginia awaits Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature.