Arkansas Senate votes to override veto of voter ID bill

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 27, 2013 4:53 PM
Arkansas Senate votes to override veto of voter ID bill

By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled Arkansas Senate voted 21-12 on Wednesday to override a veto by the state's Democrat governor of a bill that would require voters to show photo identification.

The measure would become law if the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives also votes to override Governor Mike Beebe's veto.

In Arkansas, lawmakers can override a veto by a simple majority in each chamber. This year, state lawmakers have overridden two vetoes of bills that restrict abortion.

The House voted 51-44 to pass the voter identification measure, but it was not clear on Wednesday if there would be sufficient votes to override the veto.

In his veto letter on Monday, Beebe said he "believes that the bill will unnecessarily cost taxpayers money, grow bureaucracy and risk disenfranchisement of voters.

"I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens," Beebe added.

Supporters of the proposal say it would prevent voter fraud.

"We are pleased that the Arkansas Senate has taken this commonsense measure to ensure the fairness and integrity of our elections in Arkansas," said David Ray, spokesman for the Republican Party of Arkansas.

Should the bill become law, Arkansas would join the nearly three dozen U.S. states that have similar voter ID measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legal challenges to voter ID laws are pending in several U.S. states.

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Under current Arkansas law, poll workers can request identifying documents, but voters are not required to show them.

Under the proposed law, photo ID cards would be made by county clerks at no cost for registered voters who do not have other valid forms of identification. The state Bureau of Legislative Research has reported it would cost the state an additional $300,000.

Voters without an ID could still cast a provisional ballot, which would be counted if the voter returned with photo identification.

(Reporting by Suzi Parker; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan, Bob Burgdorfer and Andre Grenon)