Add Arkansas to the un-modern family of states with restrictive photo voter ID law. This week, the Republican-controlled general assembly over-rode Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the law, which would require Arkansans to show a driver's license, passport, college student ID, employee or concealed handgun license.
Gov. Beebe warned last week that a photo voter ID law would be an "unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens." This didn't phase Republicans, though. State Sen. Bryan King, who sponsored the bill, said "It's going to become the law of the land here in Arkansas, and that's a great thing."
The aggressive trend of states passing restrictive voting laws, which began in earnest in 2010, has not reversed since civil rights groups fought off similar laws last year. Aviva Shen at Think Progress writes:
In the past few years, voter ID laws have surged in popularity among Republican-dominated state legislatures. Though many were struck down in court before the 2012 election, five states -- Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, and Tennessee -- will have strict voter ID requirements in effect for the 2014 midterm elections. Nor does the fad seem to be dying down; a new report from ProjectVote finds that 30 states have introduced vote-suppressing laws in 2013. Of these, 20 introduced voter ID bills.
Virginia's new voter ID law, much stricter than a different voter ID law they passed last year, still has to be approved by the Department of Justice. Meanwhile, if courts ultimately find a voter ID law in Pennsylvania valid, then it'll be added to the restrictive voter stew.
This week the Brennan Center for Justice released a report showing that restrictive voter laws are multiplying in 2013:
Since the beginning of 2013,
- > At least 75 restrictive bills were introduced in 30 states.
- > Of those, 64 restrictive bills are still pending in 26 states.
- > Of those, 25 restrictive bills are currently active in 15 states, in that there has been legislative activity beyond introduction and referral to committee (such as hearings or votes).
- > Two states have already passed 3 restrictive bills this session
The Brennan Center also points to 200 voting reform bills that have been introduced in states that would expand early voting, and modernize the voter registration process.
Why this all matters is that 2014 will be a pivotal year for congressional elections. Civil rights advocates are hoping 2014 won't bea re-run of the 2010 mid-term elections that led to the Tea Party planting themselves in Congress while Republicans took control of dozens of state legislatures. The consequence of that 2010 takeover was the birth of the restrictive photo voter ID movement.