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Arkansas governor vetoes voter ID bill

Arkansas governor Mike Beebe looks on during a Martin Luther King Jr. service in Little Rock, Arkansas in this January 15, 2013 Governor's o
Arkansas governor Mike Beebe looks on during a Martin Luther King Jr. service in Little Rock, Arkansas in this January 15, 2013 Governor's o

By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe on Monday vetoed a bill proposing citizens show photo identification before casting a ballot, citing risks it could disenfranchise voters, the governor's office said.

Supporters of the proposal, who say it would eliminate the possibility of fraud, plan to override the veto by Beebe, a Democrat. That would require a simple majority in a vote in each chamber of the Republican-dominated state legislature.

Should the bill become law, Arkansas would join the nearly three dozen states that have similar voter ID measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In his veto letter, Beebe said he "believes that the bill will unnecessarily cost taxpayers money, grow bureaucracy and risk disenfranchisement of voters."

"I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens," Beebe added.

The bill previously passed 22-12 in the state Senate and 51-44 in the House.

Legal challenges to voter ID laws are pending in several states and are expected in Arkansas if it adopts the measure.

Under current Arkansas law, poll workers can request identifying documents, but voters are not required to show them.

Under the proposed law, photo ID cards would be made by county clerks at no cost for registered voters who do not have other valid forms of identification. The state Bureau of Legislative Research has reported it would cost the state an additional $300,000.

Voters without an ID could still cast a provisional ballot, which would be counted if the voter returned with photo identification.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Andrew Hay)

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