In test of Arkansas voter law, the jury’s still out

In a quiet corner of the Pulaski County Courthouse, a desktop computer and a camera meant to provide voter IDs sat unused last week.

A special election for a tax increase in North Little Rock has been one of the first tests of the state’s new voter identification law. The law requires voters to either show photo IDs or sign documents to confirm their identities. Election day is Tuesday. Early voting ends today.

At the close of business Friday, 1,086 people had cast early votes in the election at one of two locations, including the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock across the street from the courthouse. During early voting from last Tuesday through midafternoon Friday, eight were unable to show a photo identification, but their provisional ballots will be counted because they signed forms affirming their identities, said Bryan Poe, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission.

“Especially in a smaller election like this, most people show ID as a matter of course,” he said. “All these years, we’ve been asking people for their ID regardless and now — and I guess back in 2014 — were the only times it’s been required. As far as I can tell — for decades — people have asked for ID before they go to vote so they’re used to providing their ID and moving on.”

He added that in an election with greater turnout and participation by less frequent voters, he would expect more people without photo identification.

Across the street at the courthouse, Jason Kennedy, assistant chief deputy for Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, said no one has asked to be given a free identification — a service required under Act 633 of 2017, by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, with equipment paid for by the state.

“We only did a few last time in the short period of time the law was in place,” Kennedy said. “It’s just a question of getting the information out to the people so they know to do it. If anyone doesn’t have one,…

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