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Bill Establishing Online Voter Registration System Fails In Arkansas Senate

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Arkansas Senate
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A bill that would have established an online voting registration system in Arkansas failed to pass the state Senate on Thursday.

House Bill 1517, which passed the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, was one final vote away from passing the legislature and going to the governor.

Under the bill, citizens in Arkansas, who have conducted business with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, would have had the ability to register to vote through an online system.

Citizens would have to submit their application at least 30 days before an election in order to qualify to vote in said election. They would also have to provide a current driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number.

The bill also requires Arkansas Secretary of State to go through voting registration data before each election and identify and purge from the rolls any listed voter who is deceased by comparing data received from the Social Security Administration.

Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville presented the bill on the Senate floor. 

"If you look at this bill and go through it line by line, you will see that it’s a great narrow way to allow people to register to vote online," Davis.  "It protects the integrity of our voter registration process, and it ensures that we have accurate, up-to-date, voter registration rolls. And I think that’s important to every single one of us in this room."

Davis also said the online system would also decrease the number of registration forms that are incorrectly completed, as the digital form would stop a possible voter from entering the wrong information.

Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale asked Davis if fixing errors in voter registration forms could be fixed in-person, instead of establishing and using an online registration system.

"We could have a law that said that once we receive your registration, we either send you a voter registration card, or a letter saying that your registration was incomplete or incorrect and you’re not registered to vote. We could do that right?" Clark said.

"If you would like to draft a bill that puts that workload on our county clerks, you could do that," Davis said.

Though the bill did receive a majority of votes from the Senate with a vote of 18-13, it needed 24 votes to pass.

Davis motioned to expunge the vote, which members did approve of, meaning it could get brought up again to the Senate for a vote. If the bill passes, it then goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, where if signed, will become law.

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