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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

NAACP says Mark Martin and state have failed to ease burden on voters from Voter ID law

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 1:50 PM

As my updated post shows, I"m getting dead silence from Secretary of State Mark Martin on new requirements he apparently has unilaterally imposed on registered voters because of shortcomings of some new software he's purchased for his office. Now comes criticism from the NAACP for his (poor) work on the state's unconstitutional Voter ID law.

In a May 5, 2014 letter to Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin and county clerks across Arkansas, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) expressed grave concerns over how the haphazard way in which state and county officials have implemented the new voter photo identification law will make it much more difficult for Black people and thousands of others to vote.

LDF — on behalf of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP, the W. Harold Flowers Law Society, and the Christian Ministerial Alliance of Central Arkansas — strongly urges Arkansas to make the county offices that provide voters with free photo IDs and with the opportunity to complete the provisional ballot process more available and accessible to voters.

As a part of an investigation spanning several months, LDF contacted the county clerks’ offices in ten Arkansas counties and was surprised to learn that four of these offices were providing voters with insufficient or demonstrably incorrect information about the voter ID law. The investigation also found that the 268,000 registered voters, 80,000 of whom are Black, living in these counties face considerable financial, material, and logistical difficulties that make it nearly impossible for many of them to reach the offices of the county clerks. For example:

The Secretary of State has failed to require the county clerks’ offices to be available on a uniform statewide basis, resulting in unequal access to necessary photo ID-related services.

County clerks' offices are closed on weekday evenings after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, and are often inaccessible by public transportation.

Voters who lack photo IDs and drivers’ licenses, and who reside in more rural parts of the State are at times forced to travel as much as 60 miles round-trip in places without public transportation to reach the nearest county clerk’s office.

In fact, even in counties with public transportation systems, a voter still may need to travel almost an hour and a half round-trip by bus just to reach the closest county clerk’s office.

The NAACP wants Martin to get clerks to establish satellite offices and extend hours.

Mark Martin can't be troubled with making it easier for people to vote. He's over at DFA making it harder to vote. I'll ask about this, too, but expect the same silence. Clerks are too busy trying to avoid giving gay people married licenses to worry about voters.

Judge Tim Fox ruled the state Voter ID law unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court stayed his ruling, meaning the bad law is in effect for the current primary. It will become a real issue in November, which is exactly what Mark Martin and other Republicans hope. You can't have the wrong sorts of people voting.

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