I missed connections with Craighead County election officials today, but the Election Commission was to meet and decide which absentee ballots could be counted among the provisional ballots received, but not counted, because they didn’t include photo or other valid ID as required by a 2013 voter ID law.
83 ballots weren’t counted of the 134 mail absentee ballots submitted. According to a report on KATV tonight, about 70 apparently were provisional ballots because of lack of ID. Others had other defects that prevented counting in the special state Senate election won by John Cooper
The Election Commission decided last week to follow Secretary of State Mark Martin’s opinion that the statute could be read — though it lacks specific language — as giving absentee voters until the week after the election to prove ID, as it does in-person voters. The state Election Commission provided contrary advice, saying the law makes no such provision. There are actually rules on the matter.
Today, the ballots were counted. The report on KATV said only five people turned up with IDs to make their votes count. That left some 65 otherwise valid absentee ballots, but without ID, uncounted.
Cooper beat Steve Rockwell, a Democrat, 4,314 to 3,2227, so the absentees don’t matter. But think about it. More than 1.75 percent of the votes in this election were cast by mail absentee. Almost 1 percent of those total votes were disqualified. Those voters didn’t count, though they otherwise met historic standards for submitting absentee ballots.
And nearly all the disfranchised were disqualified on a contested interpretation of how the new Voter ID law works. I’ll say this. It works exactly as Republicans intended. It disqualified voters. They don’t want old people to vote and they don’t want Democrats rounding up absentee votes. Too good a chance that people on Medicare and Social Security might not vote Republican.
The legislature needs to clean up the law. Better yet, some of those disfranchised voters need to sue and eradicate this bad law from the books.