Ark. Representative Discusses Voter Photo ID Bill Filed This Week

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ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- An Arkansas lawmaker wants voters to show a photo ID every time they go to the polls.

Rep. Mark Lowrey, R-District 39, filed the bill this week, two years after a similar law was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

In 2013, the state House and Senate voted to override then-Governor Mike Beebe's veto of a bill requiring photo ID to vote. In 2014, the Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional.

“We ask for photo ID for all kinds of things, entering a federal building, if you could still rent videos, you would still have to show an id, to buy cigarettes,” Lowrey said.

Poll workers are required to ask for ID, but voters don't have to do it. Lowrey said his bill makes sure election results are accurate and pointed to a study done in Indiana after the state implemented a similar law.

“In the first election after they instituted voter ID, voter turnout actually increased not decreased. So this is not meant to disenfranchise anyone, it is intended to protect the integrity of the ballot,” Lowrey said.

Chairman of the Washington County Democrats Tyler Clark doesn't see it that way.

“People that don't have means are people who are elderly that don't have a driver's license," he said. "My grandmother, for instance, is 88 and she doesn't drive anymore, doesn't have ID. She's voted her entire life, so why should she be subject to any type of law? What would make no sense."

He said the law would especially disenfranchise minority voters who are more likely not to have a photo ID.

“It's essentially a poll tax especially when you are requiring someone to get an ID who might not have one,” Clark said. "The data suggests nationwide and in Arkansas that voter ID laws are a nuisance law and not fixing a problem because the problem does not exist."

Clark said there's no evidence of voter fraud happening in Arkansas or around the country.

Since the bill would amend the Arkansas Constitution, it will need two-thirds vote if it makes it before the legislature next year.

Right now the only time voters need to show a photo ID is if they a first-time voter who didn't show ID during the registration process.