Arkansas House Delays Override Try on Voter ID Bill

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 2:22 pm  

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday delayed an attempt to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of legislation that would require the state's voters to show photo identification at the polls, but a legislator behind the proposal said he believed there was enough support in the chamber to enact the requirement.

Citing a long afternoon of votes the GOP-controlled House faced as it tried to wrap up before a three-day weekend, Rep. Stephen Meeks said he wouldn't move for an override Thursday afternoon, as expected. Meeks, R-Greenbrier, said he'd likely seek an override Monday or Tuesday

"We've got the votes," Meeks told The Associated Press before the House convened.

It takes a simple majority in both chambers of the Legislature to override a governor's veto. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 21-12 Wednesday to override Beebe's veto of the bill.

While Arkansas poll workers must ask for identification under current law, voters don't have to show it to cast a ballot. Beebe, a Democrat, cited that requirement in rejecting the voter ID bill and called the proposal "an expensive solution in search of a problem."

The bill allows voters who don't show photo identification to cast provisional ballots. But those ballots would be counted only if voters provide ID to county election officials or, before noon on the Monday following an election, sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.

The bill also would require Arkansas to provide free photo IDs to voters who don't have one, with an estimated one-time cost to the state of $300,000 for equipment. The law would not be enforced until funding is available for the IDs or Jan. 1, 2014, whichever occurs last.

The override attempt's fate is uncertain in the House, where it passed with 51 votes earlier this month. The only Democrat in that chamber to support the measure, Rep. Walls McCrary, later filed a letter with the House saying he intended to vote against it. Republicans hold 51 of the 100 seats in the House.

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, didn't vote on the measure and declined Wednesday to say whether he'd support overriding Beebe's veto.

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