by Max Brantley
Bottom line: Not a single dollar was appropriated for a public education campaign on the new law. Mark Martin's office will get the word out through its existing crack staff and budget (surely already working at peak efficiency, right?) by speaking to Kiwanis Clubs and using social media and stuff. By contrast, Missouri spent $2.2 million and Minnesota $2.7 million on public education about the new mandatory requirement of formal photo ID to vote, the article says.
Sen. Bryan King, the sponsor of this vote suppression legislation, thinks it's enough to say someone without ID can still file a challenged ballot. But that ballot won't be counted unless the voter can get the time off work, muster carfare and obtain an ID they may not possess because they don't have a driver's license — and then present the ID to election officials before votes are certified. It's a real impediment and studies elsewhere have found it has meaningful impact, not to mention adding an unconstitutional requirement and cost to cast a ballot in Arkansas. Older, poorer voters will be primary victims. (Checkout the cumbersome new process here.)
The ACLU says a lawsuit is still planned. The plain language of the Arkansas Constitution demands it.
Qualifications of electors
Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, any person may vote in an election in this state who is:
(1) A citizen of the United States;
(2) A resident of the State of Arkansas;
(3) At least eighteen (18) years of age; and (4) Lawfully registered to vote in the election.
Right of suffrage.
Elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.
What part of "free" and no right "shall be impaired" don't the Republicans understand?
RELATED: The New York Times today examines at some length the major equal rights cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the fate of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The voting rights case isn't directly relevant to the Arkansas Voter ID law, but a graphic with the article illustrates how it is only the latest example of Arkansas's generally sorry record on protecting and encouraging voting.
Arkansas: 1) Has low voter turnout relative to the rest of the country; 2) is one of the five worst states in the country when it comes to the registration gap between white and black voters; 3) is one of the eight worst states in terms of the number of cases the state has lost when suits were brought under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; 4) is among the 12 states with the worst record on voter discrimination suits; 5) in a national survey ranked among the 11 "most prejudiced' states.
Republicans only enhance this record by making it harder for poor people (with their disproportionate racial makeup) to vote.