Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, but for years some Arkansas politicians have been trying to make it harder for people to vote.
It’s sad but true: some politicians, including President Trump, think suppressing the vote works to their political advantage – so they push restrictions that disproportionately impact low-income and minority voters.
Four years ago, the ACLU of Arkansas took them to court and won, removing a restrictive new voter ID law that had disenfranchised 1,240 lawfully registered Arkansas voters whose votes were not counted in the spring election.
But as ACLU founder Roger Baldwin famously said, “no fight for liberty ever stays won." Now Arkansas politicians have put a constitutional amendment on the Arkansas ballot that would force voters to comply with a restrictive new photo ID law – or their vote will not count.
It may sound innocuous, but Issue 2 is anything but. It would deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and thwart what should be our country’s goal: including more Americans in the democratic process.
Here are four things you need to know about this harmful constitutional amendment:
- Issue 2 Is Far More Restrictive than Current Law. Issue 2 would amend the Arkansas Constitution to require an Arkansas or US government photo ID from all voters – including those who vote at the polls and those who vote absentee. Under the proposal, an ID must be presented or a ballot will not count.
- Issue 2 Will Disproportionately Impact Low Income and Minority Voters. An estimated 11% of all Americans do not possess a valid government-issued ID, including 18% of Americans over the age of 65 and 25% of African Americans. Voters earning less than $35,000 per year are more than twice as likely to lack current government-issued photo ID as those earning more than $35,000.
- Obtaining So-Called “Free” ID Cards Burdens Vulnerable Communities. While “free” ID cards are available from county clerks, potential voters often face issues with travel, time, and money in obtaining one. Many rural clerks’ offices are difficult to access and make getting one of these “free” IDs difficult for many Arkansans.
- Issue 2 is a Solution in Search of a Problem. Voter impersonation is so rare it is virtually nonexistent. In considering a challenge to the current voter ID statute, a trial court has already found that the state failed to present any evidence of voter fraud. All of us want to make our elections more free, fair and secure – but Issue 2 will do the opposite by disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters.
Issue 2 is wrong for Arkansas and has no place in our state Constitution. This November, Arkansans should make their voices heard and stand in defense of democracy by voting “NO” on Issue 2.