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"Protect our votes": Arkansans show opposition to proposed election reform legislation

A group formed outside the Arkansas capitol Tuesday to protest ten bills aimed at election reform (Photo: KATV)
A group formed outside the Arkansas capitol Tuesday to protest ten bills aimed at election reform (Photo: KATV)
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Ten proposed laws are pending in the Arkansas legislature all dealing with election reforms, but a group that gathered outside the state capitol Tuesday insists they're unnecessary.

"It's all unnecessary because all the turmoil is based on a big lie," said Prairie County election commissioner Harvey Joe Sanner. "The big lie that there was massive voter fraud. It's just simply not true."

These bills include HB 1715 which would prohibit clerks from sending unsolicited absentee ballots. SB 486 would prevent volunteers from passing out food and water at the polls.

"What are we doing here? We're supposed to be protecting people's rights to vote. We're supposed to be making voting easier not making it harder," said Pulaski County election commissioner Joshua Price. "You're telling me I can't even bring bottled water while they're waiting in line to vote. That's just cruel and unnecessary."

The other listed legislations are SB 12, SB 485, SB 487, SB 556, SB 557, HB 1112, SJR 5, and HJR 1019.

"The Republican-sponsored election integrity bills before the Arkansas General Assembly have one goal: to ensure Arkansans have faith in our electoral system," the Republican Party of Arkansas said Tuesday afternoon. They explained that these bills put forth are only a response to the previous election and believe the majority of Arkansans support them.

There's also a similar battle taking place on Capitol Hill. The For the People Act aims to protect the voting rights of Americans. It's something that our Arkansas delegation has come out against. but those at the rally wholeheartedly support.

"I think because what they're doing at the state level, that's why it's necessary for that federal law to come in and right some of these injustices, the wrongs that they're doing," said Sanner.

Other speakers Tuesday included several activist groups like the Arkansas League of Women Voters, represented by Nell Matthews.

"We're asking our representatives to open their ears and hear the voice of everyone. And when they open their ears, maybe they'll open their minds and their hearts," Matthews said.

These state bills have either passed one chamber or have been referred to certain committees. None have yet hit the governor's desk. The For the People Act has passed the U.S. House and is currently being debated in the Senate.

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