Less than a week after the Arkansas State Senate overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of SB 2, a bill that requires a photo ID to vote, the Arkansas House also re-passed the measure.
Known as the voter ID bill, Beebe vetoed the measure a week ago saying that it was “an expensive solution in search of a problem.”
A cost analysis of the bill indicated it would cost about $300,000 to implement. Beebe said in his veto letter of SB 2 that the estimate did not “take into account the ongoing costs that the taxpayers will continue to bear in future years.”
The bill has passed both chambers of the legislature largely along party lines. Republicans favor the voter ID bill, while Democrats have opposed it. The legislature has overridden gubernatorial vetoes of two abortion-related bills earlier in the session.
The House overturned the Governor’s decision on a 52-45 vote, but Rep. Fred Love (D-Little Rock) said he erroneously cast his vote in support of the override.
Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb praised the override votes.
“We are proud that both the Arkansas House and Senate have now overridden this veto. Recent surveys reveal that nearly 80% of Americans back this commonsense measure to ensure that our elections are fair and safe, and Arkansans will be well-served by this new electoral safeguard.”
Will Bond, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, said the bill increases the size and scope of government.
“SB 2 was only going to do three things: increase government bureaucracy, increase government spending, and suppress voter turnout,” Bond said in a statement following Beebe’s March 25 veto announcement.
Photo IDs will be required beginning with elections in January 2014.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only four states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee – have a strict photo ID law. Stricter voter ID laws are pending in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
“As of March 27, legislation has been introduced in a total of 30 states; this includes new voter ID proposals in 12 states, proposals to strengthen existing photo ID laws in seven states and other changes to existing photo ID laws in 11 states,” noted the NCSL in its report of ongoing voter ID laws nationwide.
The NCSL report also included the following notes about pending rules.
• Enforcement of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was enjoined for the November 2012 election by a state judge. A legal challenge to the law is presently scheduled for July 2013. The voter ID law will not be applied in the May 21, 2013 primary elections.
• Alabama will become a photo ID state in 2014 if its new law receives pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
• Mississippi and Texas have new strict photo ID laws which may take effect in future elections if they receive pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
• Wisconsin’s new strict photo ID law was held unconstitutional on March 12, 2012.
• Virginia has passed legislation that puts their law in the “strict photo ID” category, but it does not take effect until July 1, 2014.
Editor’s note: Michael Tilley with The City Wire contributed to this report.
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