New law requires voters to present photo identification at the polls

The new year has ushered in new voter identification laws for the state of Arkansas. According to Clark County Clerk Rhonda Cole, changes have been implemented to the kind of identification voters must present at the polls. "Under the old law, when you go to vote, whether early or at the polls, we ask for identification which can be a driver's license, a utility bill. Basically anything with your name and address on it. But, you did not have to show ID," said Cole. By law, poll workers were required to ask voters for identification, but the voter did not have to show it. People could still vote whether they presented identification or not. In addition, the previous law for absentee voting required first-time voters to present a copy of their identification with their ballot in order for their vote to count. Under the new law, however, Cole said voters must present some form of photo identification when going to vote. In addition to a driver's license and photo identification card, acceptable forms of identification include: • Concealed handgun carry license • U.S. passport • State or federal government employee identification • U.S. military identification • Student ID card from an Arkansas institution • Public assistance ID card "If you do not have photo identification on the day you go to vote you have to vote a provisional ballot. You have up until noon the Monday following the election to provide identification so that we can count your ballot," said Cole. According to Cole, the new law for absentee voters requires voters to submit identification each time they absentee vote. Cole noted that anyone who does not have any form of photo identification can contact her office. "What a voter would have to do if they do not have any of the ID listed is they could come into our office and they sign a oath saying they have no other form of photo identification," said Cole. Cole said the oath contains the voter's age, weight, gender and other basic information. The voter ID card is issued free of charge by the county clerk's office. "I really want to stress to voters that if they don't have photo ID they need to come in to see us after the first of the year so that we can get them taken care of," Cole said.