Republicans in Arkansas are following the lead of their pals in Georgia, Texas, Michigan and other GOP-controlled state legislatures in advancing laws that would make it harder for people to vote, CNN reports.
One of the harsher bills Arkansas lawmakers are pushing prevents people who are not voting from entering polling locations unless they are casting a ballot. That doesn’t sound too bad on its own, but the aim is to prevent people from passing out food and water to people who are waiting in line to cast their ballots. As we know, Black folks and other people of color usually wait longer in line to vote and obviously get hungry and thirsty.
Now, that is just cruel.
It gets worse. One of the measures Arkansas Republicans want to pass bars clerks from sending unsolicited ballots to voters and enforces strict signature match requirements for mail-in ballots, similar to those in Georgia.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson is reviewing the measures.
Here is more on the controversial bill:
The bills are part of a larger effort by Republican-led legislatures to restrict voting access in the wake of record turnout in the November 2020 election. In the last month, the effort has intensified as state legislatures begin to head into the final months of their respective sessions.
A new tally by the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University finds that 361 bills with provisions that restrict voting have been introduced in 47 states as of March 24 — as more state legislatures work to clamp down on ballot access.Voting rights activists have said the bills put up additional barriers to the ballot, which will have a disproportionate impact on low-income and disabled voters and voters of color.
“What we’re seeing in Arkansas is the most dangerous assault on the right to vote since the Jim Crow era,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “These bills don’t just make it harder to vote, they also make it easier for partisan politicians to interfere with local election administrators — something that could have disastrous consequences for democracy. These bills will make it harder for all voters — of all political stripes — to make their voices heard.”
Meanwhile in Michigan, that state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is a Democrat who is fighting the GOP-controlled Assembly and Senate over its anti-voter bills. She has vowed to veto any bill that comes to her desk that makes it harder for people to vote.
Here is the thing, though: Michigan is one of just nine states that allow voters to petition their lawmakers to take up legislation. If it passes, the governor can’t use her veto power. Lawmakers in Michigan rarely use it, however. Only nine voter-initiated bills have passed since 1963, according to the state Bureau of Elections.