Rep. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, is a cattle farmer who is finishing up his third term in the House of Representatives. In May, he won his primary for the newly created State Senate District 5. He has been an advocate for state voter ID laws for awhile, and as as you can see, he plans to continue pushing for this as he moves across the dome to the senate chamber next year.
(Editors note – If other state legislators/candidates have some issue they would like to write about as a guest post, please let me know. I would love to have them.)
We have a right to fair elections – elections where everyone who is qualified votes once and only once. Arkansas’s terrible history of voter fraud – some of it engineered by elected officials – gives us reason to make sure that we require clean and fair elections. The common-sense reform of requiring voters to show ID at the polls is supported by nearly three-quarters of the public. One of the best ways to guarantee fair elections and ensure confidence in the electoral system would be for us to write this into our state constitution.
We need this because I am increasingly concerned that powerful political forces in our state will fight this powerful and common-sense reform, just as reactionary legislators have blocked it from passage in the last three legislative sessions. In Missouri, a voter ID bill passed by the people’s representatives was blocked by their state’s activist Supreme Court. In that state and in Minnesota, a voter ID bill was vetoed by their governor. Our federal Supreme Court has explained that ballot integrity is a constitutional right, and I belie
ve that right is worth protecting.
Notably, when the ACLU unsuccessfully sued Georgia over its photo ID law, claiming that “a large number of Georgia voters lack acceptable photo ID,” the judge dismissed the case partly because the ACLU couldn't find a voter without ID for their case. In light of the demonstrable fact that voter ID measures increase voter turnout in addition to blocking voter fraud, it is perplexing and disturbing to see Democratic politicians like our attorney general fighting so hard against them.
Writing a voter ID rule into the Constitution will make it mandatory for the Secretary of State to provide IDs to the needy in his or her general budget. This provision was supported by Secretary of State Mark Martin; it was opposed by that office’s previous occupant. A voter ID constitutional amendment will guarantee that citizens who need IDs can get them; it is the best way to remove this debate from politics and write an anti-fraud measure into law. However, this is only one aspect of the constitutional reforms Arkansas needs.
In the 2013 session, I hope that a new conservative majority will address several problems in election law that have been ignored in the past. I intend to work to reform the redistricting process, so that we can remove politics as far as possible from the drawing of legislative district lines and put an end to the embarrassing squabbles that we saw during the 2011 session and the 2012 redistricting lawsuit.
Treating every voter equally and fairly will require reforming the redistricting process, and I intend to protect our right to fair elections by reforming this process as well.
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