[JURIST] Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe [official website] on Monday vetoed [press release] a bill [SB 2, PDF] that would have required citizens to show photo identification prior to voting. The requirement of photo ID for casting a ballot additionally calls for Arkansas to provide free photo IDs to voters without such items. Beebe rejected the bill citing unnecessary costs [veto letter, PDF] faced by taxpayers, the extension of bureaucracy and potential disenfranchisement of voters:
Senate Bill 2 is, then, an expensive solution in search of a problem. The Bureau of Legislative Research estimates that Senate Bill 2 will cost approximately $300,000 in tax dollars to implement; and that estimate does not take into account the ongoing costs that the taxpayers will continue to bear in future years. At a time when some argue for the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy and for reduced government spending, I find it ironic to be presented with a bill that increases government bureaucracy and increases government expenditures, all to address a need that has not been demonstrated. I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens.
Beebe’s veto can still be overridden by a majority vote in each chamber of the Republican-dominated state legislature.
If SB 2 is adopted, Arkansas will join nearly three dozen states with similar voter ID measures. Last month the Virginia Senate approved two bills [JURIST report] restricting the acceptable forms of identification that voters can present at the polls. Also in February an agreement was reached allowing Pennsylvanians to vote [JURIST report] in upcoming primary and special elections without submitting identification. Last December a three-judge panel in the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted permission to Texas officials [JURIST report] to appeal a ruling that rejected a Texas law requiring voters to present photo identification to election officials before casting their ballots.