Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flawed Arkansas voter ID procedure gets national attention

Posted By on Wed, May 21, 2014 at 1:13 PM

click to enlarge ANOTHER VOTER ID PROBLEM: Jeff Priebe, the ACLU's Ritar Sklar and Holly Dickson talk about the Voter ID lawsuit after a lower court victory. It's on appeal. Meanwhile, in practice, problems have arisen.
  • ANOTHER VOTER ID PROBLEM: Jeff Priebe, the ACLU's Ritar Sklar and Holly Dickson talk about the Voter ID lawsuit after a lower court victory. It's on appeal. Meanwhile, in practice, problems have arisen.

Talking Points Memo has talked 
to Holly Dickson, attorney for the Arkansas ACLU, about the departure from law experienced by voters statewide as election officials applied the new Voter ID law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has received numerous complaints from voters who say poll workers "quizzed" them about the information on their IDs, one of the organization's officials told TPM on Wednesday.

"It's not one or two specific locations, we're hearing about it in various locations around the state," Holly Dickson, legal director at ACLU of Arkansas, said in an interview. "There may have been a coordinated effort to have poll workers enforce the law this way — that remains to be seen, of course."

Talking Points notes the many problems cited here last night and today.

Justin Clay, the director of Arkansas' Board of Election Commissioners, told TPM on Wednesday morning his agency had not yet received any complaints about the issue.

"I can tell you that poll workers, from our perspective anyway, poll workers were trained on the correct process," Clay said.

If Clay is telling the truth, the training didn't work very well.

It's simple, though judging from reader reaction, some don't get it. The law now and always requires voters to give name, birthdate and address. After that process is completed, a photo ID must be produced to compare with the person seeking to vote, on appearance only. But many election officials have interpreted this to mean voters' information on the books must match that on the photo ID. The law doesn't require that and it's problematic. See testimony further on.

Some confusion has arisen, too, because several counties have purchased new computer tablets to use as electronic voting books. These can scan information from bar codes on driver's licenses to compare with voter books. The chance for problems in this comparison are obvious — the law doesn't require the photo ID and the books to match. Voters are not required to allow polling places to scan their licenses. Their names can be entered manually and they can produce the license later strictly for photo purposes. But it appears many poll workers don't know that. No comprehensive effort to put these machines into use has been undertaken.

When I spoke to the secretary of state's office about this yesterday, no concern was voiced. They are following the law, they said. So, too, is the Board of Election Commissioners. So, too, say county clerks. Except they are not. Our Mrssistertoldjah wrote last night:

One of my friends had trouble voting with a valid ID. She moved to Hillcrest from WLR 3 years ago and her address on her driver's license didn't match her address in Hillcrest where she had registered. She had no problem voting when living here in 2012 (with an address that didn't match her DL) but did today.

She stood her ground and they allowed her to vote, apparently because they didn't want a ruckus. Others likely would've walked away, especially since this was a primary.

This new GOP law has nothing to do with a picture ID. She presented it. They verified her identity but then questioned why her ID wasn't the same as her precinct she registered to vote in (driver's licenses are issued every 4 years and people move in that time span).

This was a primary and few turned out. Can you imagine how many voters will be turned away on a technicality like my friend faced in 2016 when Hillary is on the ballot? She presented a picture ID and was still questioned!

This is why we have an ACLU.

Dickson said her organization — which is currently challenging the constitutionality of the voter ID law in state courts — began getting the complaints earlier this month, after early voting began. The "inconsistencies" under the new law, she said, were "interfering with people's constitutional right to vote."

"Within the last week we started receiving complaints from voters about vehement enforcement … from poll workers," she said. "We've been encouraging them to file complaints with the Arkansas state Board of Elections.

Here's the website with contact info for state Board of Election Commissioners.

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