Republicans have been pushing for similar laws in other states, although the measures have faced court challenges. Voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have been blocked.
Arkansas Republicans had pushed for voter ID requirements for years, but the measure failed to reach the governor’s desk under Democratic majorities. In November, Republicans won control of both legislative chambers for the first time in 138 years, and they have been busy advancing their conservative agenda, including passing more restrictive abortion laws and less restrictive gun laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has called the requirement unconstitutional, and its executive director said Wednesday the group was prepared to go to court if it becomes law. Opponents of the measure say it would disenfranchise senior citizens, minorities and the poor.
“I think it sends a terrible message already in a society when we suffer from voter apathy in a very big way,” said Sen. Joyce Elliott, who voted against the override and has compared the measure to poll taxes used to disenfranchise black voters during the Jim Crow era.
The bill would exempt voters who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Beebe said Monday he was vetoing the bill because voter fraud hasn’t been shown to be a problem.
“At a time when some argue for the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy and for reduced government spending, I find it ironic to be presented with a bill that increases government bureaucracy and increases government expenditures, all to address a need that has not been demonstrated,” Beebe wrote in his veto letter. “I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens.”