Arkansas House votes to override veto of voter ID bill

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas Mon Apr 1, 2013 4:25pm EDT

Arkansas governor Mike Beebe looks on during a Martin Luther King Jr. service in Little Rock, Arkansas in this January 15, 2013 Governor's office handout photo obtained by Reuters March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Arkansas Governor's Office/Handout

Arkansas governor Mike Beebe looks on during a Martin Luther King Jr. service in Little Rock, Arkansas in this January 15, 2013 Governor's office handout photo obtained by Reuters March 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Arkansas Governor's Office/Handout

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled Arkansas House of Representatives voted on Monday to override a veto by the state's Democratic governor of a bill that would require voters to show photo identification.

Representatives voted 52-45 to override Governor Mike Beebe's veto, joining the state Senate, which had voted on March 27 to override the veto.

In Arkansas, lawmakers can override a veto by a simple majority in each chamber. This year, state lawmakers have overridden vetoes of two bills that restrict abortion.

Arkansas will join nearly three dozen U.S. states that have voter ID measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legal challenges to voter ID laws are pending in several U.S. states.

Supporters of the proposal say it would prevent voter fraud. State representatives had voted 51-44 to approve the voter identification measure that was sent to Beebe.

In his veto letter on March 25, Beebe had said he "believes that the bill will unnecessarily cost taxpayers money, grow bureaucracy and risk disenfranchisement of voters."

The state Bureau of Legislative Research has said the law potentially could cost $300,000 for hardware, supplies, installation and training.

The law requires county clerks to make photo ID cards at no cost for registered voters who do not have other valid forms of identification. Voters who lack identification may cast provisional ballots, which would be counted if they return with photo identification.

Arkansas law has permitted poll workers to ask voters for identifying documents, but voters have not been required to show them.

The bill takes effect next January 1, but only if the legislature has appropriated money to issue voter ID cards.

(Reporting by Suzi Parker; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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