Despite this week's controversy surrounding the state's voter identification law, which requires voters to provide photo identification prior to casting a ballot, Clark County Clerk Rhonda Cole said her office is prepared to operate smoothly regardless of the outcome of a Friday hearing regarding the matter.

Despite this week's controversy surrounding the state's voter identification law, which requires voters to provide photo identification prior to casting a ballot, Clark County Clerk Rhonda Cole said her office is prepared to operate smoothly regardless of the outcome of a Friday hearing regarding the matter.
"As of right now, the Secretary of State's office has instructed us to ask voters for photo identification," Cole said. Pending an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling, voters who do not have photo ID may have to cast a paper ballot. For these voters, "They will be allowed a 'cure period,'" Cole said, "which means they will have until the Monday following the election to bring photo ID to the office so that their vote may count."
But, Cole says, there shouldn't be any holdups in Clark County. "As far as early voting is concerned, I don't see a big problem with our voters showing identification," she said, "because with the previous law we had to ask voters for identification." The new law requires not only for clerks to ask for ID, but also for voters to provide it.
"We might have had one person per election that didn't have ID," Cole said of past elections. "I feel that our voters are going to have voter ID anyway."
Cole, like the other 74 county clerks in Arkansas, should have an answer today as to how their offices will operate Monday, when early voting begins for the primary election. "We have been told by the legal counsel at the Secretary of State's office that once this hearing has been held, all county clerks in the state will be notified on how we need to handle the voter ID law Monday morning," Cole said.
Cole said the voter identification law is an important issue to voters. "There may be some voters who don't have a photo ID and will feel disenfranchised if they have to vote provisional ballot," Cole said.
According to Cole, the new law affects mostly the elderly — "the ones that don't drive any longer and don't have a need for photo identification," she said. "But, then again, the law states we're set up so so that if someone were to come in and sign an oath, our office can get them a photo identification at no cost."