AR Briefly

Arkansas Senate committee votes to forbid absentee ballot drop boxes

By: - February 16, 2023 12:30 pm

Photo of a state of Maryland ballot drop box in Wheaton, Maryland, October 2020. (Photo by Jane Norman/States Newsroom)

A group of Arkansas senators recommended Thursday that the full Senate pass a ban on ballot drop boxes — a process that isn’t happening in Arkansas.

Bill sponsor Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs) said Senate Bill 258 would prevent the use absentee ballot drop boxes, which he called a “beacon of mistrust,” from coming to Arkansas.

Ballot drop boxes have become targets for many Republicans across the U.S. after former President Donald Trump and his legal team attacked their use — without evidence of significant fraud or misuse — following Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid in 2020.

Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs)
Sen. Tyler Dees

“I think it puts a higher level of trust back to the people that Arkansas is not going to use [ballot drop boxes],” Dees said.

Currently, Arkansas allows absentee ballots to be submitted through the mail or returned in person to a voter’s county clerk’s office.

Ballot drop boxes have been heralded in many states as a way to increase voter turnout, and efforts to curtail them often have greater impacts on communities of color.

Arkansas Secretary of State Director of Election Leslie Bellamy joined Dees in presenting SB 258 to the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Government Affairs.

She said that drop boxes can be tampered with or damaged and are susceptible to being stuffed with fraudulent ballots.

Sen. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who voted against the legislation, pointed out that those are already possibilities with mail ballots.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.