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Arkansas' Beebe vetoes voter-ID bill

Arkansas' General Assembly
Arkansas' General Assembly

Republicans have the majority in Arkansas' General Assembly for the first time in 139 years, and to show that they've earned the public's trust, they're hard at work, focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs.

No, I'm just kidding. The first GOP majority since the 1870s, elected with the generous support of the Koch brothers, is actually busy approving sweeping bans on reproductive rights and imposing new restrictions on Arkansans' voting rights. Yesterday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) used his veto pen to reject the latter.

The bill, which proposed a requirement that Arkansans show identification when voting in any election. In the release, Beebe said the bill is "an expensive solution in search of a problem", with the Bureau of Legislative Research estimating the cost of implementing the bill at $300,000 in tax money.

The statement also added that the Attorney General's Office could not determine the legal future of the bill, should it become law.

"At a time when some argue for the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy and for reduced government spending," Beebe said. "I find it ironic to be presented with a bill that increases government bureaucracy and increases government expenditures, all to address a need that has not been demonstrated. I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens."

Remember, the problem voter-ID laws hope to address doesn't exist. The only reason to approve a voter-ID law is if policymakers want to limit voting -- in this case, disproportionately punishing seniors, students, the poor, and minority communities.

Also note the political context: Republicans at the national level say they want to improve outreach to minority voters, while Republicans at the state level continue to wage a war on voting that hampers minority voters. (If RNC Chair Reince Priebus wants to condemn the Arkansas bill, I'd be very impressed, though I probably shouldn't hold my breath.)

Republican state lawmakers will, of course, try to override Beebe's veto. If successful, the law might well run afoul of the Voting Rights Act, but the law may soon be stripped from the books by Republican appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court.