Voter ID changes: Election commission reviews new regulations

Thursday, August 17, 2017

First-time voters in Arkansas will now have to present a current and valid form of identification.

The Carroll County Election Commission met on Wednesday, Aug. 9, to discuss the voter ID laws enacted by the state legislature under Act 633 of 2017.

Under the new law, first-time voters must show a current and valid ID to receive a regular ballot. If the ID is expired, then they can show additional ID, such as a water bill or bank statement.

First-time voters who fail to show ID will be given a provisional ballot, which is used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility. Any first-time voter who receives a provisional ballot will have the opportunity to come to the Carroll County Courthouse and show ID either by the Monday after the election or at the provisional hearing. If a first-time voter fails to do so, their ballot will not count.

Regular voters will also be asked to show an approved ID that is not expired for more than four years. If the ID is expired for more than four years, then they can sign the “verification of identity affirmation” on the ballot in order to obtain a regular ballot.

If a regular vote does not show approved ID or has an ID that is expired for more than four years and does not sign the verification of identity affirmation, then they will be given a provisional ballot. They can come to the courthouse by the following Monday at noon to show approved ID or additional ID. The ballot will count unless the election commission determines it will not for other reasons.

To train the poll workers on the new laws, the commission decided the easiest thing to do would be to have them come to the courthouse to be trained.

The commission voted to adopt a modified document breaking down the list of provisional voters and the reasons they received provisional ballots to use during the upcoming school election. Commission chairman David Hoover said the commission will revisit the document before the next general election.

Also at the meeting, election coordinator Sherry Cochrane announced that she had received resolutions from the Green Forest School Board and the Eureka Springs School Board declaring that they would not be opening polls for the upcoming school election on Tuesday, Sept. 19, because the board seat races are uncontested and there are no millage increases on the ballot. The school elections will be done by early voting and absentee ballots only, she said.

The Berryville School District is requesting a 4.45-mill increase in the election, she said. Cochrane informed the commission that the deadline for having a list of poll workers ready is Monday, Aug. 28.

“If we could have the list ready before that date, it would help me out a lot,” she said.

The commission agreed to set up three voting machines and three laptops for the Sept. 19 school election and have nine poll workers on site. Two of the laptops will be used for check-in, Hoover said, and the third will be used as a help desk.

The polling site for the Berryville millage election will be the Berryville United Methodist Church, he said. Hoover suggested having 25 provisional ballots available because of the new voter ID laws.

Under new laws approved by the Arkansas legislature, Hoover said that school districts will have to hold their elections either on the date of the primary election or on the date of the general election.

“Each school gets to choose when to have theirs,” he said. “We would like them all to vote at the same time, but it’s up to the districts.”

He discussed the matter with commissioner Gary Deramus, and they decided to visit each school board this fall after the September election to present a list of pros and cons for having the school election on the date of the primary election or general election.

Cochrane said the commission has been fortunate to always have great working relationships with the school districts in Carroll County, and she believed the schools would be willing to hold their elections at the same time.

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