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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — A sign at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Little Rock on May 24 reminded voters that a photo ID is required to cast ballots. The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unanimously that the voter-ID law violates the state's Constitution. ( Rick McFarland)

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected a state law requiring voters to show identification when they vote.

In an opinion issued Wednesday afternoon (PDF), the court unanimously affirmed a Pulaski County circuit court judge who ruled the law was unconstitutional.

Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote that the law's "added requirement of providing a proof of identity as a prerequisite to voting runs afoul of" the Arkansas Constitution, which "plainly states" a person who is an Arkansas resident, at least 18, registered to vote and a U.S. Citizen can cast a ballot.

"These four qualifications set forth in our state's constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement," he wrote.

In a concurring opinion, Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson said the high court didn't need to even determine whether the act was constitutional on its face because an amendment to the state constitution requires legislators to get a two-thirds majority to pass such a law. It fell short of that when the act passed last year.

"Because the Act failed to obtain a two-thirds vote, it is invalid," Goodson wrote. "As a consequence, it is wholly unnecessary to decide whether the Act added a new qualification to voting as prohibited by" the Arkansas constitution."

Legislators last year passed the law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls and then overrode a veto from Gov. Mike Beebe.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down the law earlier this year, but suspended his ruling pending a decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on the case two weeks ago.

Supporters of the voter-ID measure said it prevents fraud. Opponents questioned whether such fraud actually takes place and contended requiring identification places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

The opinion from the state's high court comes less than a week before early voting, which starts Monday, and less than three weeks before Election Day on Nov. 4.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Voter-ID ruling

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Archived Comments

  • Dontcallmenames
    October 15, 2014 at 4:58 p.m.

    Judges are only politcal hacks now who don't interpret the law but just bend to the pressures of the liberal society.

  • RBBrittain
    October 15, 2014 at 5 p.m.

    Any idea when we might see the opinion? It's not yet on the judiciary's website. The opinion is important to both sides as it describes the exact grounds for the court's opinion. (Hint: From the oral arguments I suspect it was purely on state grounds -- i.e., it created a new voter qualification NOT found in the Arkansas Constitution -- so it CANNOT be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. More than likely, fans of voter ID will have to convince the voters to approve it as a constitutional amendment in 2016.)

  • RBBrittain
    October 15, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

    I was typing my post just as the ADG updated its story. No, DCMN, the judges are NOT "political hacks"; they followed established Arkansas legal precedent dating back to 1864 (Rison v. Farr). As I said earlier, you voter-ID fans will likely have to make your case directly to the people in 2016.

  • ToTheLeft
    October 15, 2014 at 5:03 p.m.

    Wonderful! Voting is a privilege for everyone!

  • Sewerelf
    October 15, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

    How can u prove any of the four requirements without an ID???? Just plain stupidity on the judges part!!!

  • ARMNAR
    October 15, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

    How will the GOP suppress the vote NOW?

  • yungs
    October 15, 2014 at 5:09 p.m.

    This is so wrong. ID needs to be shown for everything else, why not for voting? This just makes it easier for fraud. the judges probably all have full pockets now.

  • mitchstoner
    October 15, 2014 at 5:14 p.m.

    Amend the State Constitution! There is no huge burden in requiring an I.D., Armnar. Everyone has to have ID for many normal life functions, like buying liquor or smokes, applying for a job, cashing a check--or even opening a checking account. Even applying for welfare.

    All those voters you seem to think are being suppressed already have to show an ID for so much stuff, one might think the REAL reason for the squawking is that presenting an ID might cut down on voter fraud.

    But of course I would never believe that of you Armnar or others of your ilk. No, I am sure your motives are pure as the driven snow.

  • Reason
    October 15, 2014 at 5:18 p.m.

    Republican overreach!

  • Slak
    October 15, 2014 at 5:20 p.m.

    Maybe the opposite tactic, armnar.
    The Pulaski Co Clerk revealed a huge vulnerability.
    Nobody knows or gives a crap if you register all over the place.
    LOL!
    Nobody is going to check anything, not any more.
    I suggest republicans register everywhere and vote the straight R. Dems are free to do the same, of course, but repubs being so rat-nasty and devious, you know they'll fall to sin first and sin more often.
    *smiles*
    This could actually work.

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