WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new Arkansas bill heading to the governor’s desk would prohibit anyone from being within 100 feet of a polling location unless for “lawful purposes.” Senate Bill 486 passed both Republican-held houses of the state Legislature, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is expected to sign it. The new restrictions would include banning volunteers unaffiliated with any campaign from handing out water and snacks to voters waiting in long lines at the polls — a strategy also embraced by Republicans in Georgia in an effort to enact more barriers to voting.
Democrats in the state Legislature opposed the bill, disagreeing with Republican justifications that the legislation is an attempt to increase election security. Democratic Rep. Vivian Flowers said to her colleagues, “I want you to think very carefully about what our state looks like when we pass legislation that creates barriers, however small, to keep people from the polls in whatever way.”