Fighting for the Rights of Every Arkansas Voter

While some legislators seek to expand democratic participation in our state, others wish to strip Arkansans of essential voting rights. For AR People is tracking voter bills in our state legislature for the 2021 session. Below you can find the most egregious voting bills as well as a handful of good ones.

SB485| Sponsor: Sen. Hammer (R-33), Rep. Gonzales (R-19)

Why it's Bad: Removes the Monday before Election Day as an early vote option. This day has historically high voter turnout.

Summary: SB485 would shorten the early voting period in the state, specifically removing the Monday before Election Day as an early voting option. Many Arkansans choose to vote on the last day of early voting, which is a Monday. If passed, this would make for more congested early voting and restrict voting access.

Status: Passed Senate Committee. Moves to Senate floor.

SB486| Sponsor: Sen. Hammer (R-33)

Why it's Bad: Would prevent volunteers from handing out water or food to people in line to vote at polling locations. It would prevent anyone except voters and polling staff from being within 100 feet of a polling entrance.

Summary: SB486 Would prevent volunteers from handing out water or food to people in line to vote at polling locations. It would prevent anyone except voters and polling staff from being within 100 feet of a polling entrance. Right now Arkansas law prohibits electioneering from within 100 feet of a polling entrance, which includes soliciting or wearing campaign materials. This bill would prohibit activity of any kind within the space including nonpartisan volunteer work.

Status: Passed. Signed into law as Act 728.

SB487| Sponsor: Sen. Hammer (R-33)

Why it's Bad: Removes county clerks from the process of designating and certifying voter centers

Summary: SB487 removes county clerks from the process of designating and certifying voter centers. This bill removes election control from elected officials and puts control in the hands of partisan election commissioners who are not accountable to the public. 

Status: Passed. Signed into law as Act 729.

SB557| Sponsor: Sen. Mark Johnson (R-15)

Why it's Bad: Authorizes a county board of election commissioners to delegate the supervision of election officials

Summary: SB557 would allow a county board of election commissioners– election official appointed by political parties and not accountable to voters– to delegate the supervision of election officials.

Status: Passed both chambers. Delivered to Governor.

HB1803| Sponsor: Rep. Lowery (R-39)

Why it's Bad: Allows the State Board of Election Commissioners to institute corrective action; expands the number of violations that the State Board may investigate

Summary: HB1803 allows the State Board of Election Commissioners to institute corrective action; expands the number of violations that the State Board may investigate, including absentee ballots, voter registration, etc. 

Status: Passed. Signed into law as Act 756.

SB643| Sponsor: Sen. Hammer (R-33)

Why it's Bad: Requires absentee ballots to be returned the Friday before Election Day

Summary: SB643 changes the date in which absentee ballots must be turned in to the Friday before Election Day. By shortening the window to absentee voting, it makes the process even more restrictive. It also violates one’s right to vote on Election Day by requiring an early voting cutoff time to those who cannot vote in person. 

Status: Passed both chambers. Delivered to Governor.

SB644| Sponsor: Sen. Hammer (R-33)

Why it's Bad: Allows State Board of Election Commissioners to decertify officials and take over and conduct a county's election

Summary: SB644 authorizes Joint Performance Review to investigate and refer alleged election law violations of election officials to the State Board of Election Commissioners; authorizes the Board to decertify officials and take over and conduct a county’s election. This is a hostile takeover of local elections and demonstrates mistrust in our local county election officials, who are opposed to this bill.

Status: Passed both chambers. Delivered to Governor.

HB1112 | Sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R-39)

Why it's Bad: Would prevent those who don't drive or who don't have a valid ID from voting

Summary: HB1112 amends our current voter ID law, requiring those who cast provisional ballots to show photo identification by noon on the Monday following Election Day. Previously, voters without ID could cast provisional ballots and still have their vote counted.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. HB1112 is now Act 249.

SB12 | Sponsors: Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-21), Rep. Justin Gonzales (R-19)

Why it's Bad: In an emergency declaration, would allow for last minute changes to polling sites; would make absentee voting more difficult

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Summary: SB12 would amend election procedures during an emergency declaration. Specifically, SB12 would get rid of the 15 day requirement to notify the public of a change in polling site or vote center. It would also shorten the timeframe in which absentee ballots are accepted by mail.

Status: Assigned to STATE AGENCIES & GOVT’L AFFAIRS-SENATE

Senate Committee Members: Chair Senator Jason Rapert  Vice-Chair Senator Trent Garner  Senator Bob Ballinger  Senator Cecile Bledsoe  Senator Breanne Davis  Senator Jane English  Senator Bart Hester Senator Clarke Tucker

HB1332 | Sponsor: Rep. Boyd (R-77), Sen. Davis (R-16)

Why it's Good: Would permit online voter registration

Summary: HB1517 would permit online voter registration in Arkansas. It would also allow the Secretary of State’s office to easily compare online voter registration files with records of deceased Arkansans.

Status: Passed. Now Act 448.

HB1202 | Sponsor: Rep. Andrew Collins (D-35), Rep. Justin Boyd (R-77)

Why it's Good: Would ensure every voter can access their sample ballot online

Summary: HB1202 amends the publication requirements for elections and requires that sample ballots are posted online for voters to view.

Status: Passed. Now Act 128.

SB141 | Sponsor: Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-28)

Why it's Good: Would add emergency election procedures into Arkansas code

Summary: SB141 would amend current election code to include a section for emergency declarations, granting the Secretary of State power to modify election procedure as needed. Right now no such emergency declaration section exists in our election code.

Status: assigned to STATE AGENCIES & GOVT’L AFFAIRS-SENATE

SB217 | Sponsor: Sen. Clarke Tucker (D-32)

Why it's Good: Would simplify the absentee ballot process

Summary: SB217 would simplify the absentee voting process, requiring more accessible language and clearer ballot canvasing standards.

Status: Passed Senate Committee. Assigned to Senate floor.

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