- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Election commissioners in Craighead County have suggested a change in Arkansas’ voter ID law, saying they received conflicting advice on how to treat absentee ballots submitted during a recent special election.

The local panel said the State Board of Election Commissioners told them voters were required to present a valid form of identification when turning in ballots during a special state Senate election this month, and that any that came in without a proper ID should be rejected. The secretary of state told the Craighead County Election Commission to give voters a period of time to show a proper ID after submitting an absentee ballot.

Craighead County Election Commission Chairman Scott McDaniel said the panel chose to wait and give voters extra time.

In a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe, Secretary of State Mark Martin, the Election Commissioners Board and numerous state senators and representatives, the Craighead County panel said it was concerned that, in the future, different counties would follow different procedures involving the same race.

“You could have a nightmare scenario where one county counts and one county doesn’t,” said Scott McDaniel, the chairman of the Craighead County Election Commission.

The letter recommends that voters show an ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

The Jan. 14 special election was decided by a wide margin, so questions regarding its 60 absentee ballots had no bearing on the race, but the local commission says it’s worried about what would happen in a closer contest.

“It’s fair to say this is a very, very crucial issue that needs to be fixed before the May primaries,” McDaniel said. “The stakes are pretty high.”

He said that, even if the commission’s suggestion is rejected, the secretary of state and the election commissioners need to be on the same page. “Their positions need to be in line,” he said.

In the Jan. 14 election, Republican John Cooper defeated Democrat Steve Rockwell to replace Paul Bookout. Bookout resigned after being fined by the Ethics Commission over spending from his campaign fund.


Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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