Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down ruling against voter ID laws
Members of Arkansas’ Supreme Court tossed out a judge’s ruling to strike down the state’s voter ID law on Wednesday.
In a 5-2 ruling, justices vacated the Pulaski County judge’s decision that the law violates the state’s constitution.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had struck down the law in a case that had focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the law, but justices stayed his ruling while they considered an appeal. Fox also has ruled the law unconstitutional in a separate case but said he wouldn’t block its enforcement during this month’s primary. That ruling is being appealed to the high court.
Justices said Fox didn’t have the authority to strike down the law in the case focusing on absentee ballots. They noted that there was no request before Fox in the case to strike down the law.
“The question then becomes whether the constitutionality of the act was properly before the circuit court for a ruling. Based on the record before us, we must conclude that the answer to that question is no,” Justice Paul Danielson wrote.
The court did uphold part of Fox’s decision that a state panel did not have the authority to give absentee voters additional time to show ID if they didn’t include a copy of their identification with their ballot.
The ruling comes as debates about voter ID laws throughout the station are taking center stage. Currently, 31 states have laws in effect that require voters to show some form of ID, with Arkansas’ being one of the strictest in the nation.
In Arkansas, election workers used to be required to ask for photo ID, but voters didn’t have to show it to cast a ballot. Now, the new law requires that voters who do not show photo identification can cast provisional ballots, but the votes will only be counted if voters provide ID to county election officials before noon on the Monday after the election. They also have to sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.
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