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Arkansans could face penalties for voter fraud

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(The Center Square) – New election laws are in play as early voting begins Tuesday in Arkansas’ preferential primary.

Arkansas lawmakers established the Election Integrity Unit, which allows the attorney general to sue anyone who commits voter fraud and impose monetary penalties.

“The public’s confidence in government is directly tied to the public’s confidence in our elections,” Attorney General Tim Griffin said. “Thanks to the legislature’s work last year, my office now has the authority to bring a civil cause of action against those who violate our election laws. This is an important tool to ensure that our laws are followed as monetary damages can be an effective deterrent.”

Griffin’s office set up an election law hotline for complaints about possible election fraud.

“I established the Election Integrity Unit last year to ensure the people of Arkansas have an outlet to submit complaints and ensure that all credible leads are investigated,” he said.

The bill is one of several election-related bills passed by the Arkansas Legislature last year and signed into law by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The Ballot Security Law of 2023 establishes a process for tracking and delivering ballots.

Three of the other bills address absentee ballots.

Act 353 eliminates drop boxes for absentee ballots. The ballots must be dropped off in person at the county clerk’s office or mailed.

County clerks could face a misdemeanor charge if a pre-filled absentee ballot is given to a voter or a voter’s signature and identity are not verified under Act 320.

Lawmakers also passed a bill allowing residents to vote absentee if an election is held on a religious holiday.

Another law prohibits write-in candidates from appearing on the ballot and any write-in votes from being counted.

Arkansas ballots will include Republican presidential primary candidates who have ended their campaigns since qualifying last November. Since that time, Republican candidates Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy have dropped out of the race. Former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are essentially in a two-person race, with Trump having a significant lead over Haley.

In-person voting takes place on Tuesday, March 5, known as Super Tuesday, because 13 other states will hold their presidential preference primaries. In other states, Alaska Republicans only have a primary that day, and Iowa Democrats will count their mail-in votes.

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