UPDATE: On Tuesday, March 21, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed Senate Bill 255 and Senate Bill 258 into law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, March 16, the Arkansas Legislature sent two bills to the governor: Senate Bill 255, which prohibits private grants for election administration, and Senate Bill 258, which bans drop boxes in the state. Both bills now await the likely signature of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R).
S.B. 255 would ban state or county officials from accepting private donations to fund election administration, prohibiting any “funding, grants, or gifts, services, or anything else of value” from any source other than government entities. Arkansas already prohibits county boards of election commissioners from accepting such funds, but S.B. 255 extends that to all authorities that run elections in the state. S.B. 255 passed both chambers with Democratic support.
Election offices are chronically underfunded across the country. Though private grants can be crucial to running elections, they have become a target for Republican lawmakers since 2020 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated over $400 million to election offices through the Center for Technology and Civic Life. A similar proposal is advancing in the Montana Legislature this year.
S.B. 258 would ban drop boxes. The bill reads: “A county clerk, public employee, or election official shall not establish or use a drop box for the purpose of collecting absentee ballots” and “No person shall deliver an absentee ballot through a drop box.” The bill was amended to clarify that it is permissible for absentee ballots to be hand delivered inside the “physical office of the county clerk.” S.B. 258 passed on party-line votes in both chambers, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against.
This legislative session, the South Dakota Legislature has also sent a drop box ban to Gov. Kristi Noem (R) that’s awaiting her signature. Despite drop boxes being secure and convenient for voters, these bills are representative of the growing trend of GOP states severely restricting mail-in voting and drop box use since the 2020 election.