WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans in the Arkansas state Senate passed a bill Thursday night that would do away with one of the most popular early voting days in the state. Senate Bill 485 would eliminate early voting on the Monday before Election Day, instead ending early voting at 4 PM on that Saturday. In 2020, more than 51,000 Arkansans cast their ballots on the Monday before Election Day.
The bill had previously been rejected three times by a state Senate committee, but these votes were expunged, meaning the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Kim Hammer (R), was able to re-introduce the legislation. On Thursday, the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill, as did the full senate, with some Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the legislation. The bill now moves to the state House.
S.B. 485 is one of 10 pending voter suppression bills before the legislature, and was the subject of protests outside the state capitol in early April. Joined by advocacy groups like the Arkansas League of Women Voters, the protestors stood in opposition to unnecessary legislation that makes voting harder, which Republicans have justified as part of their furtherance of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.