On January 11, Rep. Mark Lowery filed HB1112, a bill that will suppress voter turnout if passed.
This bill proposes that Arkansas voters casting provisional ballots must present an accepted form of photo ID for their vote to count. Right now, voters can vote provisionally without presenting photo ID. A provisional ballot is used when voters are unable to comply with ID requirements. For voters without proper ID, the provisional ballot verifies the voter’s identity. However, if HB1112 passes, the votes of thousands of Arkansans may no longer be counted.
WHY IT MATTERS
This is an urgent matter, not only because representation matters but because of who this bill disproportionately affects. Getting photo ID card may not seem like a big or hard task to accomplish, but there are important things to consider. Many Arkansans, namely the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, and those who use public transportation do not have nor need driver’s licenses.
Getting a photo ID requires a number of things:
1. Access to a revenue office.
2. Time. Lines at revenue offices often remain long throughout the day.
3. Reliable transportation to and from a revenue office.
4. Access to a birth certificate with your current, registered legal name.
It is important to note that the majority of those who do not own photo IDs are already among the most underrepresented populations in voter turnout. If this bill is passed, voter turnout will inevitably drop among the elderly, those with disabilities, and low-income racial and ethnic minorities.
The goal of this bill is voter suppression. Those working hourly jobs, with no time to spend in long lines at the revenue office, could lose their representation in the government through their vote if this bill passes. This also goes for those with no reliable transportation or a revenue office that is too far to commute to. Moreover, it’s important to think of those who have changed their name for one reason or another, and have not paid to have it legally changed on their birth certificate.
The next and most crucial step for the public to take is contact our local representative. You can call, email, or mail your representative to let them know why HB1112 should not be passed. To find out who to contact, go to the Arkansas representative map and see who represents you.
Voter rights are essential to the promotion and preservation of our democracy and the people’s voice.