A bit of morning chatter on Channel 4 this morning indicated that Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson of Rogers didn’t have the proper ID when he first went to early vote on Monday. I’ve tried to get to the bottom of this with his campaign, but so far have only received the incomplete response that he did vote yesterday.
Still pending is the question of whether, as newsman Matt Mosler said, Asa encountered a Voter ID wrinkle before his ballot was cast. No biggie. Maybe he left his wallet with driver’s license in his pickup truck, slapped his forehead when he was asked to produce it, raced out in the parking lot to get it and all was well.
But the symbolism is clear: A wrinkle could be a roadblock for other voters.
Such an episode is an all-too-human reminder of how the law can be an impediment to the franchise. Hutchinson is a successful lawyer with an entourage and the day off to politic. He was going to get a ballot cast yesterday. The hourly factory worker trying to cast a ballot in the midst of a long commute to work who left his license back at the house? He might have a harder time setting things right. Never mind those who don’t have a valid ID at all and no ready means to get to the county clerk’s office to get one.
It’s a little disappointing that Asa’s campaign is stonewalling questions on a minor matter, even if it carries a tiny bit of negative symbolism for a Voter ID law advocate. Fess up, laugh it off, move on. Hash tag: @VoterIDs***happens
PS — I inquired about this, by the way, before the Arkansas Democratic Party jumped in with a news release and comment:
We hope Asa’s experience at the polls yesterday will cause him to reevaluate the unnecessary burden the Voter ID law places on senior citizens, students and those serving in the military. Arkansas’s Voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional and is still under review.
UPDATE: The candidate himself called, confirmed the story and, in the end, took the approach I suggested (I don’t mean to say he did so at my urging; I expect he has other things to do than read the Blog.)
He went to early vote Monday morning at the courthouse in Bentonville. A TV crew was expected to be there to record the moment. As he was walking up to the building: “I realized I didn’t have my ID.” He’d left it at his law office in Rogers. “I retrieved it and I voted and that’s it.” He laughed at himself for the flub, which he said cost him maybe a 10-minute drive to his office and back.
And to those who might want to use it as an example of problems the law causes, he said: “I would make this comparison. I’ve actually done the same thing flying out of an airport. I realized, whoops, I don’t have my ID and I had to go back and get it.” It’s an inconvenience, but he understands the need for it.
UPDATE: In accounts given to AP and others, a spokesman for the campaign said an aide fetched Hutchinson’s ID for him, I thought I understood him to say he went on the drive back to get it. In seeking a clarification, I got the snooty kind of treatment I’ve come to epxect from Hutchinson’s press aide Christian Olson: “I think we’ve covered this sufficiently.” If Asa wins sounds like the return of Huckabee-era press relations, though I must say Asa himself was pleasant and forthcoming.