Two readers of the Arkansas Blog have reported that, after presenting a valid voter ID at polls this week, an election clerk held the ID and then asked the voter to recite vital information, including address and birth date. Fail the test and they couldn’t vote, the readers said. This isn’t how the law is supposed to work.
I didn’t experience this at the poll in Little Rock. If it happened elsewhere, it is not the procedure set out in law. If the procedure happened as readers described, it sounds like these clerks might have inverted part the process. The clerk is supposed to ask a voter for name, address and birthdate and then — after finding the voter on the rolls — ask for ID. If ID is not produced, a provisional ballot may be cast.
Bryan Poe of the Pulaski County Election Commission says his workers were specifically trained on this point. They were told not to check information on the voter ID except for name and photograph, he said. The secretary of state’s office, general overseer of elections, agrees this is the proper procedure.
For the record, here’s the complete text of the relevant section of the new statute:
7-5-305. Requirements. [Contingent effective date.]
(a) Before a person is permitted to vote, the poll worker shall:
(1) Request the voter to identify himself or herself in order to verify the existence of his or her name on the precinct voter registration list;
(2) Request the voter, in the presence of the poll worker, to state his or her address and state his or her date of birth;
(3) Determine that the voter’s date of birth and address are the same as those on the precinct voter registration list;
(4) If the date of birth given by the voter is not the same as that on the precinct voter registration list, request the voter to provide identification as the poll worker deems appropriate;
(5) (A) If the voter’s address is not the same as that on the precinct voter registration list, verify with the county clerk that the address is within the precinct.
(B) If the address is within the precinct, request the voter to complete a voter registration application form for the purpose of updating county voter registration record files.
(C) If the address is not within the precinct:
(i) Verify with the county clerk’s office the proper precinct; and
(ii) Instruct the voter to go to the polling site serving that precinct in order for his or her vote to be counted;
(6) If the voter’s name is not the same as that on the precinct voter registration list, request the voter to complete a voter registration application form for purposes of updating county voter registration record files;
(7) Request the voter, in the presence of the poll worker, to sign his or her name, including the given name, middle name or initial, if any, and last name in the space provided on the precinct voter registration list. If a person is unable to sign his or her signature or make his or her mark or cross, the poll worker shall enter his or her initials and the voter’s date of birth in the space for the person’s signature on the precinct voter registration list;
(8) (A) (i) Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(8)(A)(ii) and (a)(8)(B)(ii) of this section, request the voter for purposes of identification to provide proof of identity.
(ii) (a) A person who is a resident of a long-term care or residential care facility licensed by the state is not required to provide proof of identity before voting.
(b) A person not required to provide proof of identity under subdivision (a)(8)(A)(ii)(a) of this section shall provide documentation from the administrator of the facility attesting that the person is a resident of the facility.
(B) (i) If a voter is unable to provide this proof of identity, the poll worker shall:
(a) Indicate on the precinct voter registration list that the voter did not provide proof of identity; and
(b) Permit the voter to cast a provisional ballot.
(ii) When a voter is unable to provide proof of identity, the voter and the election official shall follow the procedure under § 7-5-321.
(iii) A first-time voter who registers by mail without providing identification when registering and desires to vote in person but who does not meet the identification requirements of § 7-5-201(e) may cast a provisional ballot.
(iv) Following each election, the county board of election commissioners may review the precinct voter registration lists and may provide the information of the voters not providing proof of identity at the polls to the prosecuting attorney.
(v) The prosecuting attorney may investigate possible voter fraud;
(9) Record the voter’s name or request the voter to print his or her name on the list-of-voters form;
(10) Follow the procedures under §§ 7-5-310 and 7-5-311 if the person is a voter with a disability and presents himself or herself to vote; and
(11) Permit the person to cast a provisional ballot if the person received an absentee ballot according to the precinct voter registration list.
(b) A person not listed on the precinct voter registration list may vote only in accordance with § 7-5-306.