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Protecting the integrity of Arkansas' elections must take priority over one man's refusal to submit to the state's voter identification law, election officials told the Pulaski County circuit judge who will be considering the legality of the law in the coming days.

State lawyers dispute the claim that Act 633 of 2017 requires voters to have photographic identification. Voters can choose instead to sign a statement asserting their identity and not be bothered showing any ID, they told Circuit Judge Alice Gray on Monday.

Dylan Jacobs, an assistant solicitor general in the attorney general's office* representing the state's election commissioners, said the law furthers the state's interest in making sure that only qualified voters cast ballots in Arkansas elections.

The state's last voter ID law was thrown out by the state Supreme Court in 2014.

Jacobs told the judge that the 2017 law was carefully crafted by legislators who took the high court's decision to heart so they would avoid the flaws in its predecessor.

Barry Haas of Little Rock, a longtime poll worker, disputes the state's position and has sued to overturn the latest law. The new law creates an illegal distinction between voters, he argued.

The ones who show ID are guaranteed their votes will be counted, but voters who do not present identification do not have that assurance, Haas said.

Voters who forgo photo identification in favor of signing the verification form must then have their ballots reviewed by their local election board before they can be tallied, his lawyer, Jeff Priebe, told the judge.

Prospective voters do not need photo ID to register to vote, and federal law prohibits authorities from requiring first-time voters to present identification, he said.

"It's easier to register [to vote] in the state of Arkansas than to vote under 633," Priebe said.

Testifying on Monday, Haas said he won't show his identification. He's met every requirement to vote, he said, arguing that the new demand for ID exceeds the state's authority by essentially requiring voters to repeat the registration process before their votes can be counted.

Haas is asking the judge to block further enforcement of the law until a trial can be held to determine whether it's legal.

Gray, after a seven-hour hearing, did not say when she would decide what to do about Act 633.

State lawyers urged the judge to reject Haas' suit, arguing that he should not prevail in a case where he has deliberately decided to risk to having his ballot rejected.

Attorney A.J. Kelly, the deputy secretary of state, told the judge that Arkansas' "compelling ... interest" in protecting the process outweighs Haas' claim that he's being illegally inconvenienced.

Kelly asked the judge to rule before an April 6 deadline for election authorities to begin distributing absentee ballots.

Metro on 03/13/2018

*CORRECTION: Dylan Jacobs is an assistant solicitor general with the Arkansas attorney general’s office. His job title was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Print Headline: Election officials defend voter ID

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  • TuckerMax
    March 13, 2018 at 6:54 a.m.

    The entire photo ID movement was to inconvenience voter groups who tend to vote for Democrats. Remember the North Carolina representative on the news saying what they were doing to screw the Democrats? "Voter ID, check." We've voted since statehood without voter IDs. Yet the "compelling state interest" is preventing something nobody can prove happens. Voter fraud of greater than 1 in 200,000 votes is the Republicans "fake news."

  • GeneralMac
    March 13, 2018 at 9:41 a.m.

    Sure, TuckerMax..........the Democrat voters you are referring to are those poor people who claim they have no picture ID yet are drawing every kind of welfare imaginable.....HUD, food stamps, Medicaid.

    Is welfare in the US that easy to get that no ID is required ?

  • Popsmith
    March 13, 2018 at 9:46 a.m.

    Everyone I know is most willing to prove who they are in any circumstance. My mother-in-law's driver's license expired when she was 82. She didn't bother to renew it so as to have an identification. She sometimes has trouble convincing the doctor and pharmacist who she is.
    I'm sure voting is not as important.

  • mrcharles
    March 13, 2018 at 10:57 a.m.

    Just another brick in the wall.

    Across america the gop is protecting themselves from voters. The list is long of roadblocks, and as Tucker max states , it is really not a problem compared to the damage it does. In pennsylvania a judge asked for proof of and proof of what could be and as the gop had their thumb in their ...... they sayeth nothing.

    If they just had the integrity to just say what they are really doing instead of couching in terms of voter integrity . I say elect Sgt Custer and "it" would have no qualms of telling of the right's evil disdain for the poor, elderly, minorities, the ill, the disabled , the non fascist, etc. "It" like a rattlesnake announces what it is, unlike most gop's hiding in the grass. "it" should be commended for telling everyone "its" venomous nature .

  • hah406
    March 13, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.

    The bigger issue is that the fraud is essentially non-existent, and the law is written out of bounds with the constitution of the state. Article 3 Section 1 states that one only need be a citizen of the U.S., a resident of Arkansas, 18 years of age or older, and lawfully registered. If you want the rules changed, do what is necessary to amend our state constitution. Don't write some backroom law with the express intent to disenfranchise a specific group of voters. It is anti-American to do that.

  • GeneralMac
    March 13, 2018 at 12:06 p.m.

    hah406.........what you listed are the stipulations on who can vote.

    I see nothing wrong with enforcing those stipulations via requiring an ID.

  • Lynchman
    March 13, 2018 at 12:58 p.m.

    Let me get this straight, the law requires me to show my ID to prove my age to buy liquor or beer but it’s discrimination to require my ID to vote. What’s wrong with this picture?

  • 23cal
    March 13, 2018 at 1:33 p.m.

    Lynchman: There is no right as a citizen to be able to buy liquor, so that kind of restriction is acceptable to access that privilege. Also, that sort of restriction isn't designed to abrogate the rights of citizens. Additionally, if minors buying liquor were virtually unheard of, then there probably wouldn't be such a restriction. Last, the ID requirement for liquor solves a real and existing problem of minors buying liquor. There is not real and existing problem with widespread voter fraud based on impersonation.
    There is a right to vote which citizens have. Requiring a photo ID is designed to obstruct and to interfere with that right. As TuckerMax pointed out above, that is the purpose, and they have admitted to it.

  • TimberTopper
    March 13, 2018 at 2:52 p.m.

    There is no defense for something not needed. Voter Fraud is not a problem. Check out the numbers.