Election

Voter ID Law Reinstated in Arkansas

May 15, 2014

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned one of two recent lower-court rulings that struck down Arkansas’ voter ID law, saying a circuit judge exceeded his authority in ruling on the law’s constitutionality when that issue was not properly before him.

The high court upheld a portion of the judge’s ruling that said the state Board of Election Commissioners exceeded its authority when it issued emergency rules concerning how absentee ballots should be handled under the law.

Act 595 of 2013, which took effect Jan. 1, requires Arkansas voters to show photo identification at the polls. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled April 24 that the law is unconstitutional because it imposes qualifications for voting that go beyond the qualifications set forth in the Arkansas Constitution. The ruling was stayed pending an appeal.

Fox issued the ruling in a lawsuit the Pulaski County Election Commission filed. The lawsuit challenged rules the state Board of Election Commissioners issued concerning absentee ballots, not the constitutionality of Act 595, but Fox said that in order to review the rules he had to review Act 595, and in doing so he found that it violated the state constitution.

In a separate lawsuit brought by voters who challenged the constitutionality of Act 595, Fox on May 2 ruled again that the law is unconstitutional. He also stayed the ruling pending an appeal, so the law has remained in effect.

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