Judge Again Finds Arkansas' Voter ID Law Unconstitutional

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Friday, May. 2, 2014 2:58 pm  

(Photo by Beth Hall)

Under previous law in Arkansas, election workers were required to ask for photo ID but voters don't have to show it to cast a ballot. Under the new law, voters who don't show photo identification can cast provisional ballots. Those ballots would be counted only if voters provide ID to county election officials before noon on the Monday after an election, sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.

"I am pleased that the Voter ID requirement will remain in place so that it won't create confusion, as early voting begins this Monday," Secretary of State Mark Martin said in a statement released by his office. "I look forward to seeing what the final ruling will be, as litigation continues. I would like to remind voters that for now, they will need a picture ID to vote."

Fox had previously struck down the law in a case that had focused on absentee ballots. The Pulaski County Election Commission sued the state Board of Election Commissioners for adopting a rule that gives absentee voters additional time to show proof of ID. The rule allows voters who did not submit required identification with their absentee ballot to turn in the documents for their vote to be counted by noon Monday following an election. It mirrors an identical "cure period" the law gives to voters who fail to show identification at the polls.

Fox's ruling had been stayed by the state Supreme Court, but the high court declined to stay Fox's decision to strike down the state board's rule giving absentee voters additional time. Attorneys for the state and the Pulaski County Election Commission sparred over the law's constitutionality in briefs filed before the high court Monday morning. It was unclear when justices would issue a ruling.

The ACLU and the Arkansas Public Law Center sued on behalf of four voters who they said would be harmed by the restriction.

The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.

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