Asa Hutchinson almost lost his own vote on Primary Day...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2014, 1:49pm PT  

This morning, in reporting on 92-year old Texan Ruby Barber's inability to receive a Photo ID to vote under the state Republicans' new law restricting legal voters who don't have a very specific type of ID, we noted that there are hundreds of thousands of otherwise legally registered voters in TX (and millions across the nation), who are likely to find themselves unable to vote at all, unless these purposely discriminatory voting laws are struck down once and for all by the courts.

While the elderly, the poor, students and minorities (all of whom just happen to lean Democratic) are far and away more likely to lose their right to vote under these Republican-enacted restrictions, they are not the only ones at risk of losing their franchise, as evidenced Tuesday during Arkansas' primary election...

As Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress reports:

Former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson won his party’s nomination to be Arkansas’ next governor on Tuesday --- but he almost lost his chance to vote for himself. Hutchinson was initially turned away at the polls because he forgot to bring the photo identification required by Arkansas’ new voter ID law, a law that he supports. The former lawmaker was eventually able to vote after he sent an aide to retrieve his ID for him.

Most voters, of course, do not have staffers that they can send to retrieve their IDs for them. Indeed, for many low income voters, who lack the job flexibility to take extra time to vote if their first attempt fails, being turned away from the polls even temporarily can cost them their right to vote. Low income voters are one of several demographic groups that are disproportionately likely to not have a photo ID in the first place. Most of these demographic groups tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans.

So, without a paid staffer and the ability to take even longer off from work, Hutchinson might have lost his right to vote entirely yesterday, as Millhiser explained.

The case was similar last year, when 90-year old former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright was initially turned down in his attempt to receive a Photo ID from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety (DPS), since Wright's driver's license, like 92-year old Barber's, had expired. As we explained when covering Wright's plight last year, the former Congressman was "lucky enough to have an assistant to drive him to and from the DPS office" several times, as was needed to finally obtain the ID now required to vote in the state. Most folks without driver's licenses, however, aren't necessarily as lucky, especially in TX, where some voters would face a 250-mile round-trip drive to the nearest DPS to obtain their "free" Photo ID for voting.

Happily, as in Wisconsin, where a federal court recently dessimated that state's GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restrictions, the law in Texas has a good chance of ultimately being nixed at the federal level.

There is a pending federal challenge against Arkansas' voter suppression law as well, where a state court recently struck down the statute as a strict violation of the state constitution. That ruling was then reversed --- for the time being --- by the state Supreme Court on a technicality. The state's high court did not decide on the law's constitutionality at that time, so that issue will come up again soon there.

In the meantime, however, the legal and judicial roller coaster left an untold number of voters, including the state's Republican nominee for Governor, at risk of losing their right to vote during Tuesday's primary election.

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