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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S Elections


2014. Te first, HB1047, now Act 633 of 2017, merely amends the Arkansas Code, not the constitution. Although it did receive the requisite two-thirds of each chamber this time, there is still an argument to be made (one that was made in the 2014 majority opinion) that this statute, as amended, would still violate the Arkansas Constitution by requiring more of a registered voter than is set forth in the constitution. Proponents of Act 633 are confident that if it is challenged before the Arkansas Supreme Court again, the court, now with a new Chief Justice and without Jus- tice Donald Corbin, author of the October 2014 opinion, would rule in favor of the bill’s constitutionality. However, if Act 633 were challenged and declared un- constitutional yet again, a second initiative, HJR1016, also passed and will make its way to the general election ballot in November 2018. If the people pass HJR1016 in the 2018 general election, it would amend the constitu- tional requirements for a registered voter to cast a ballot in an election, adding the requirement to provide proper identification in addition to the current four requirements before voting in person or by absentee ballot. However, there could still be potential federal constitutional issues, since the right to vote is considered a fundamental right


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protected by the U.S. Constitution. Finally, SB297, which failed to pass out of the Joint Bud-


get Special Language Committee, would have appropriated $34.5 million to the County Voting Systems Grant Fund, enough to secure new voting equipment for all counties in need statewide. Counties across the state are struggling with old, deficient and deteriorating voting equipment and are not prepared to handle another election with current equipment, much less a primary or general election with school board elections included on the same day. Last year, 10 Arkansas counties were able to provide voters with new voting machines, paid nearly in full by the County Vot- ing Systems Grant Fund, with Washington County paying $420,000 to the state’s $1.2 million for its new machines. Other counties receiving new machines from state funding were Boone, Columbia, Garland, Sebastian, Yell, Chicot, Cleveland, Jackson and Randolph counties. Tose counties still waiting in line for funding for new voting equipment are hopeful the legislature will recognize the integrity of Ar- kansas elections as a priority and perhaps address the fund- ing issues in a special session rather than kicking the can down the road to the 92nd General Assembly.


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COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


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