The special election for the vacant state Senate District 21 seat could have been quite controversial if it had been closer. Perhaps the result will at least provide state officials with a hint that they should be prepared for disputed election results under a new law. Since Saturday the Craighead County Election Commission has been publishing a one-third page advertisement in the classified section of The Jonesboro Sun aimed especially at voters who cast an absentee ballot in the Jan. 14 special election but failed to provide the identification required under Act 595 of 2013.
That is the law sponsored by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, and other Republicans, passed over Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto on a party-line vote. (Remember the criticism of the Affordable Care Act as a partisan measure? Apparently that only matters when the other party wins.)
The law requires that anyone voting in person provide valid photo identification to poll workers and that anyone voting absentee provide photo ID or other identification, specified as a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
King contended that the law was needed to combat voter fraud. Opponents said it was aimed at discouraging poor, elderly, disabled and minority citizens from voting.