A Circuit Court judge has resoundingly rejected Arkansas’ new Photo ID restrictions on voting, declaring the law to be “null and void” and in violation of the state’s Constitutional right to vote. Last year, after Republicans took over the Arkansas statehouse for the first time since Reconstruction, they passed an onerous Photo ID restriction law for voting. The Democratic Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the new restrictions, but that veto was subsequently overridden by the Republican legislature. Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Davis Fox’ 2-page Summary Judgement [PDF] finds in favor of plaintiffs in the case, the Pulaski County Election Commission and against both the defendant, the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, as well as the Republican Party of Arkansas which intervened on behalf of the Board of Election. In his Thursday ruling, Fox found the law to be “unconstitutional in that it violates Articles 3, Section 1 and Article 3, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution.”
Section 1 of Article 3 details the “Qualifications of Electors” in the Arkansas state Constitution, declaring that, “Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, any person may vote in an election in this state who is: (1) A citizen of the United States; (2) A resident of the State of Arkansas; (3) At least eighteen (18) years of age; and (4) Lawfully registered to vote in the election.”
Section 2, on the “Right of Suffrage” states that “Elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.”
Given the very clear and straightforward language of the state Constitution, this seems to have been a very easy case. Republicans, however, are reportedly preparing to appeal the ruling.