For the second time in weeks, Arkansas legislators have overridden Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto to pass a law close to conservatives’ hearts.
On Monday the Republican-controlled General Assembly voted largely along party lines to pass a law requiring voters to show photo ID at polling stations.
Beene had described the bill as “an expensive solution in search of a problem” in vetoing the bill and had urged the Assembly not to override his veto.
GOP members say the legislation is necessary to tackle voter fraud, though opponents claim it could disenfranchise voters by making it more difficult for them to get a state-approved ID card.
"We are trying to protect the integrity of one of the most fundamental rights we have here in America," said Republican state representative Stephan Meeks.
In his veto letter, Beebe said he "believes that the bill will unnecessarily cost taxpayers money, grow bureaucracy, and risk disenfranchisement of voters.
"I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens," Beebe added.
Under current Arkansas law, poll workers can ask for identifying documents but voters are not required to show them. With the new law, voters who do not show photo ID can only cast provisional ballots which will be counted only if voters later show identification to county election officials, or if they sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.
With the new law, Arkansas joins nearly three dozen U.S. states with similar voter ID requirements.
This latest win for the Republican-controlled Legislature comes just four weeks after they went toe-to-toe with the Governor over a controversial abortion bill, twice overriding Beebe’s vetoes. The first vote banned most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy. Less than a week later, the Legislature again overturned the Governor's veto of a near ban on abortion from the 12th week of pregnancy onward.
The new laws mean that Arkansas has one of the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Abortion rights activists have already indicated they will sue, and the Governor predicted the law will likely fail in a court.
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