Earlier this year, the Arkansas legislature passed a number of changes to voting laws. These changes affect early voting, absentee ballots, and the ability of people with disabilities to get help in casting their vote at the polls.
How will these changes impact you? Here’s a brief explainer:
- Act 249 changes the way that the Voter ID requirement works in Arkansas. If you don’t have an ID with you, you will have to present ID to election officials in your county by the Monday after Election Day for your ballot to be counted. Signing a statement that says you are who you say you are instead of presenting an ID is no longer enough to have your ballot counted. This law will prevent people without a valid ID, or without reliable transportation, from being able to vote.
- Act 723 bans people from being within 100 feet of a polling place, except for people who are there for “lawful purposes.” This means that groups that have provided water, snacks, or other aid for people waiting in line to vote are not allowed to do that anymore. This does not prevent a person with a disability from bringing someone with them to help them with voting, because the person who is there to help is there for a lawful purpose. This law will make it harder for all voters, especially those with certain disabilities, to wait in the long lines that can happen on Election Day.
- Act 736 makes a few different changes to the way absentee ballots work in Arkansas. One of the things it does is add stricter requirements for absentee ballots to be counted. The people reviewing the ballots will be checking to make sure that all signatures and personal information match on the application for the ballot, the ballot itself, and the voter statement. If anything does not match up the ballot will not be counted. This could create issues for voters who are blind or have certain physical disabilities and do not always have a consistent signature or anyone who might make a mistake entering their personal information. The law also makes a change to the number of ballots that one person can return for other people. A person used to be able to return absentee ballots for up to ten people. This law changes that to four people. This can cause a problem for people with disabilities who rely on other people to return their ballot for them.
- Act 973 moves up the deadline for returning absentee ballots in person to 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. Absentee ballots that are mailed in are still due by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
We’ve created a one-page flyer summarizing these changes, so that you can download and print it for your files or share it with others.