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Group asks judge to halt Arkansas voter-ID law

By Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

This article was published June 24, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.


In this photo taken Tuesday, May 20, 2014, an election worker walks past a voter ID sign at a Little Rock, Ark., polling place. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas asked a Pulaski circuit judge on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, to lift the stay on his ruling last month that it was unconstitutional to require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.

LITTLE ROCK — A civil liberties group asked an Arkansas judge Tuesday to block the state from enforcing its voter-ID law, saying more than 1,000 people were disenfranchised during last month's primary election because of the requirement that they show photo identification before casting a ballot.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled last month that the voter-ID requirement was unconstitutional but suspended his ruling, allowing the requirement to stay in place during the May 20 primary and June 10 runoff election. The primary was the first statewide test of the law, which took effect in January.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on Tuesday asked Fox to lift his stay, saying 933 absentee ballots and 131 ballots cast in person during the primary were thrown out because of the new law.

"With the November 2014 general election expected to have an even greater turnout, the impact of the 'proof of identity' provisions on otherwise qualified Arkansas voters in the general election could be even greater," the group said in its filing. "Should rates of disenfranchisement and voter turnout remain steady for the November General Election, potentially thousands of registered Arkansas voters could be disenfranchised in the general election."

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

The law allows voters who don't show ID at the polls to cast a provisional ballot that won't be counted unless they show ID to election officials by noon on the Monday after the election. No such "cure period" is allowed for absentee voters, who must include a copy of their ID with their ballots.

Fox ruled in May that requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot violated the Arkansas Constitution by creating a new qualification to vote. He also said lawmakers did not properly approve the measure, citing a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to change the voter registration process.

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

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Secretary of State Mark Martin have appealed Fox's ruling. Both said through their offices that they were reviewing the ACLU's filing.

Fox had found the law unconstitutional in April in a separate case that focused on absentee ballots. The state Supreme Court tossed out that decision, saying the judge didn't have the authority to address the law's constitutionality in that case.

Thirty-one states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to Arkansas.

Pennsylvania's governor in April said he wouldn't appeal a judge's ruling striking down that state's voter-ID law. A federal judge that month also struck down Wisconsin's voter-ID law.

Under previous Arkansas law, election workers were required to ask for photo ID but voters don't have to show it to cast a ballot.


Comments on: Group asks judge to halt Arkansas voter-ID law

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tenpoint says... June 24, 2014 at 4:06 p.m.

I think the Arkansas voter-ID Law should be left alone . It Is a good law a person should show the people proof of who they are

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djigoo says... June 24, 2014 at 4:24 p.m.

So polling place misrepresentation has been a problem in Arkansas?

I hadn't heard about that.

Because it hasn't.

Why then are we trying to spend money on a problem which doesn't exist?

Unless, of course....

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calayes says... June 24, 2014 at 4:45 p.m.

Has it been studied to see if there is a problem?

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carpenterretired says... June 24, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.

As 28 percent of blacks ,23 percent of Hispanic and only 11 percent of white many young or very old do not have photo I.D. on a national basis there fore photo I.D. should be very helpful to the G.O.P. to win elections.

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Dontcallmenames says... June 24, 2014 at 5:14 p.m.

Liberals, please show us the list of names of the more than 1,000 people who were disenfranchised.

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Artexan says... June 24, 2014 at 5:42 p.m.

We show a photo ID to do almost anything in this world. What's the problem, a FREE ID is available and we do not have to wait until there is a voting problem in order to have a clean election.

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Popsmith says... June 24, 2014 at 5:49 p.m.

Sounds like more lawyers making work for themselves at our expense.

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Tajivet says... June 24, 2014 at 6:02 p.m.

The Democrats can't have this. They wouldn't win any office if everyone had to show an ID to vote. I mean there are only so many john smiths that can be used before someone catches on. If you don't have an ID and want to vote, then get one. On the other hand, if you want to get your free living courtesy of the democrats, then don't.

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ThinkFree says... June 24, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.

I'd like the judge to halt the "show ID to buy liquor" law. I'd also like for him/her to halt the "show ID to get on an airplane" law. I'd also like for the judge to halt the "show ID when pulled over by a police officer" law.
Oh, you mean it's OK for those other examples that require an ID, but not for voting? Why is that? Personally, I liked the way Iraq was doing their elections, before ISIS started undoing what our soldiers fought and died for. There was no "Absentee" voting and they dip your finger in ink so you can't vote twice.
I also think you should have to pay taxes in order to have a say in how tax money is spent, but that's a REALLY RADICAL IDEA.

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syzito says... June 24, 2014 at 7:41 p.m.

So blacks,latinos and young people don't know how to go to a local Revenue Office and obtain a photo ID....then, if they are that stupid, they don't need to vote anyway.

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