Arkansas lawmakers approve changes to state’s election laws

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(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas legislators have approved changes to the state’s election laws that opponents say would disproportionately harm voters of color in the state.

The House on Tuesday approved legislation that would prohibit people within 100 feet of a polling place while voting is taking place unless they’re entering or leaving for a lawful purpose.

The measure is in response to groups handing out food and water to voters outside polling places.

The ACLU made a response to the passing of the most recent voting legislation calling it a “dangerous assault on the right to vote”

“What we’re seeing in Arkansas is the most dangerous assault on the right to vote since the Jim Crow era,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Legislators are moving at breakneck speed to erect new barriers to the ballot that will disproportionately impact voters of color, as well as elderly and low-income Arkansans. These bills don’t just make it harder to vote, they also make it easier for partisan politicians to interfere with local election administrators – something that could have disastrous consequences for democracy. These bills will make it harder for all voters – of all political stripes – to make their voices heard. We urge Governor Hutchinson to listen to the concerns raised by Arkansans across the political spectrum and veto these anti-voter bills.”

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director

Another bill passed the Senate would put new restrictions on absentee ballots.

The bills come as an historic number of voting restrictions have been proposed nationwide this year.

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