New law requires voters to provide valid identification at polling sites.
With one of the most important elections on the horizon for residents of Clark County, County Clerk Rhonda Cole wants to make sure voters are fully aware of the changes to Arkansas' voter identification law.
"I just want to remind voters that we've always asked for ID but you did not have to show it but now you have to show photo identification," said Cole.
Early voting on the continuation of the half-cent economic development sales tax will begin Tuesday, March 4 in the Clark County Clerk's Office.
Voters can stop by the office, located inside the Clark County Courthouse, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. during normal office days before Tuesday, March 11.
Cole said the office will not be open on Saturday, March 8.
"For special elections and school elections we do not have to open on Saturday," Cole said.
Under the old law, voters were not required to show their identification when they went to vote.
According to Cole, Act 595 of 2013, which went into effect in January 2014, requires all voters to present a valid photo identification at the polls.
Cole noted that valid photo identification must be issued by the federal government, State of Arkansas or an accredited Arkansas college or university. The voter's name and photograph must be on the valid photo identification and it must not be expired for more than four years before election day.
"If you do not have a valid photo identification, a free voter identification card can be processed at the Clark County Clerk’s office," said Cole.
According to Cole, voters who do not have identification may still be allowed to vote using a provisional ballot.
Voters who vote using this ballot will have until noon on the Monday following the election to provide identification so their vote will count.
According to Cole, the new law for absentee voters requires voters to submit identification each time they absentee vote.
"Under the previous law, absentee voters only had to show ID if they were a first-time voter. Now everyone who votes absentee, every time they bring in a ballot, they have to turn in identification," said Cole.
For those voting absentee, Cole said a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter is required for their vote to count.
Cole said it is not too late for an absentee voter to receive a ballot. The deadline to mail the application to receive an absentee ballot is Tuesday, March 4.
Cole noted that anyone who does not have any form of photo identification can contact her office.
"What a voter would have to do if they do not have any of the ID listed is they could come into our office and they sign a oath saying they have no other form of photo identification," said Cole.
Cole said the oath contains the voter's age, weight, gender, and other basic information.
The voter ID card is issued free of charge by the county clerk's office.
"I really want to stress to voters that if they don't have photo ID they need to come in to see us after the first of the year so that we can get them taken care of," Cole said.
For more information call Cole (870) 246-4491 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.