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Bill Modifying Absentee Voting Process Passes Arkansas House

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Arkansas House
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The Arkansas House has passed a bill that makes a variety of changes to the state’s absentee voting process.

Members voted 74-22 Thursday, largly on bipartisan lines, in favor of House Bill 1715. It now goes to the Senate.

Some changes the bill includes are: denying absentee ballots to voters if signatures don’t match between their application and voter registration application, and not allowing county clerks or other designated officials to give to voters "unsolicited absentee ballot applications."

Clerks and other election officials are still able to display a post absentee ballot application form on the internet.

In presenting the bill to the House, Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, called the reforms necessary to make sure the state has fair elections.

"It is not a voter suppression, I know that’s a favorite mantra of those who want to oppose this, that we’re trying to suppress the vote. But no, we’re trying to make sure that the vote meets the guidelines, the integrity that we would want our elections to have," Lowery said.

Though no lawmaker was allowed to speak against the bill due to a motion of immediate consideration, some questions were brought up by lawmakers over some of the new signature requirements.

After the same bill passed its committee on Wednesday, Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth issued a statement saying several points Lowery made about her office were lies, such as his claim that Hollingworth allowed an outside group to collect ballots on behalf of the clerk at a tent outside of the courthouse. 

"I cannot sit by quietly and allow our office to be attacked and damaged by blatant lies," Hollingsworth said in the statement.

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