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State lawmakers pass bill that could change voting in Arkansas

Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 8:23 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A bill that can change the way you vote awaits Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signature.

If the governor signs the bill into law, counties will no longer control verifying provisional ballots.

Voters would have to present proper documentation or an identification card before the county election board by 12 p.m. on the Monday following an election.

With the next election cycle coming up in 2022, State Rep. Brandt Smith says he wants to make the process effective and fairer for all Arkansans.

“We want living, breathing, registered voters across the political spectrum to show up and cast their vote, but they need a voter ID to do it,” Smith said.

State Rep. Smith claims with issues in the recent election with voter fraud, the bill “adds an extra layer of protection” to prevent another claim of voter fraud.

Smith’s primary concern is ensuring Arkansans that every vote gets counted.

Emma Agnew, president of the Craighead County chapter of NAACP, believes that the bill does more harm than good to voters.

“They are making it harder to actually vote,” she said.

Agnew says the bill can hurt older adults and marginalized communities the most – given that they have a harder time accessing polls.

“The fact that our country and the state of Arkansas is making it harder and harder for people who already find it challenging to vote, then that says something about the state of Arkansas,” said Agnew.

The NAACP president argues that there is no evidence of election fraud, given that the current law mandates people to sign a “sworn statement” that verifies who they are.

While Agnew agrees with Smith that everyone does have the right to vote, she says that not everyone can easily exercise it.

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