Arkansas lawmakers are pushing a new state voter ID requirement less than three years after the state Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical measure.
The Arkansas House approved the bill 74-21 earlier this week and it now heads to the state Senate. The measure would require Arkansas residents to present photo IDs when they vote.
The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a similar law passed in 2013, saying that it imposed a voting qualification beyond what was required by the state constitution. In order to cast a ballot, the Arkansas constitution requires only that a voter be at least 18 years old, a resident of Arkansas, a U.S. citizen and lawfully registered to vote in the state.
“These four qualifications set forth in our state’s constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement,” the late Justice Donald Corbin wrote for the court.
But now Republican lawmakers hope the new lineup on the state’s high court will look more favorably on a voting ID measure, according to The Associated Press. Four of the seven justices who struck down the 2013 law are no longer on the court. The three justices who remain had written a concurring opinion in the case in which they found the law invalid merely because it did not pass with the two-thirds majority needed to alter the state constitution’s voting requirements.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, and the specific kind of fraud that a photo ID requirement could prevent, voter impersonation at the polls, almost never happens. Voter ID requirements also disproportionately affect low-income, elderly and minority voters. Still, Republicans across the country have pushed such laws, arguing they are necessary to ensure the integrity of elections. President Donald Trump has added fuel to this push by claiming, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Last week, Arkansas state Rep. Mark Lowery (R), who introduced the new bill, said it was difficult to collect empirical data on voter fraud, but he had heard anecdotal evidence of it. He said the measure was necessary to restore confidence in the electoral system, according to the Arkansas Times.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) did not respond to a request for comment about whether he would sign the bill.