LITTLE ROCK — The Republican Party of Arkansas said absentee voters who fail to submit required identification with their ballot should be given more time to submit ID, arguing in a filing to a state court that failing to do so would create a double standard compared to voters who cast a ballot in person.
The state Board of Election Commissioners approved a rule change allowing voters who do not submit required identification with their absentee ballot to turn in the documents for their vote to be counted by noon Monday after an election. It mirrors an identical period given voters who fail to show ID when they seek to vote in person at the polls.
The Pulaski County Election Commission filed suit over the change, saying the state board overstepped its authority because such a provision was not included in the legislation creating new voter ID requirements. A judge previously granted the Republican Party's request to defend the state board's decision.
"In-person voters would have the opportunity to have their ballots counted if they can submit proper proof of their identification by the Monday following an election. Absentee voters would be denied this opportunity," the Republican Party of Arkansas said in a motion filed Friday that argued there would be a double standard.
But the Pulaski County Election Commission argued that the rule change is invalid because Act 595, approved by the Legislature last year, did not include extra time for absentee voters who didn't include a photocopy of their ID with their ballots.
"There are only three and one-half business days between Election Day and the end of the cure period," the Pulaski County commission wrote in a court brief Friday. "This allows very little time to provide notice to an absentee voter and have them return the required identification documentation."
Both sides have until Wednesday to file responses in the case.
The litigation is separate from an American Civil Liberties Union suit challenging a new Arkansas law requiring photo ID to cast a ballot. The May 20 primary is the first statewide test of the new law.