Absentee Voters Unaware Votes Didn't Count Due to Voter ID

- "In the middle of 1930's you didn't see many automobiles," Eddie Rodgers reminisced from his sofa on Little Rock's 14th Street.

Eddie and Dorothy Rodgers distincly recalled a time of horses and carts and a time when they didn't have the right to vote.

"There was once upon a time we weren't allowed -- it wasn't counted," Dorothy Rodgers said. "It was just like being ignored, being unimportant. "

The Rodgers said they have faithfully voted, and for the past few years they've done so by absentee ballots.

"I did get a letter talking about how we would need to provide ID but I didn't pay it much attention," Eddie Rodgers said. "For so many years of voting and not having an issue. Why would they go and change it now."

On Thursday, the Rodgers found out the votes they had cast in the primary election didn't count because they didn't include the necessary Voter ID paperwork.

Their votes didn't count two months ago during the Pulaski Tech millage election, either. But they had no idea because the law doesn't require them to be notified.

"You didn't know until we called you?" we asked them.

"We didn't get a call. Right," Eddie said.

The Rodgers aren't alone. Fox 16 requested the disqualified lists of both elections. Of the 63 absentee ballots rejected in the primary, 16 voters or 25 percent, had also been disqualified during March's Pulaski Tech election. And none of them were notified.

" I'll make sure it counts next time," Dorothy said. "I'll include whatever I need to include now that I know what the law is."

While some trips down memory lane are enjoyable, the Rodgers believe missing out on the right to have your voice heard isn't a past Arkansas should want to return to.

The Voter ID law's sponsor has told Fox 16 he intends to introduce an amendment to the law that would allow absentee voters the same "cure" period provided to voters who don't present identification at the polls. As it stands, there's no such provision in the law, resulting in absentee ballots that do not meet the requirement to simply be disqualified and not counted.

The Pulaski County Election Commission unanimously voted Thursday to begin notifying absentee voters when their ballots have been disqualified due to lack of ID.

Across the state, Voter ID has resulted in dozens of ballots going uncounted. The percentages of absentee ballots thrown out range from more than 80 percent in St. Francis County to zero in Lincoln County and all ranges in between.

According to Pulaski County Election Commission Chair Leonard Boyle, Sr., told Fox 16 he isn't aware of any other election commission or county office in the state notifying absentee voters of their disqualification at this time.

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