Arkansas’ attorney general told a state judge on Friday he plans to appeal a decision that struck down a new voter ID law, while a civil liberties group said it will move forward with a separate challenge to the requirement. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office filed a notice of appeal over Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox’s ruling a day earlier that voided a new law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. McDaniel is appealing the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Fox had issued the ruling in a case that focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the new law. A spokesman for McDaniel’s office and the chairman of the state Republican Party both said they planned to ask the court to stay Fox’s ruling. The GOP had been given permission to help defend the state in the absentee ballot case, and has filed a separate notice of appeal. The state’s primary is May 20, and early voting for that election begins May 5.
“Certainly this order leads to confusion as early voting does start,” state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said. “That’s the reason why we think it would be appropriate for a stay, because if the Supreme Court does overturn — and we expect the Supreme Court to overturn— this order, then what about the effectiveness of the act in this particular election?”
The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate. Backers of the measure said it was aimed at reducing voter fraud, while opponents said it would disenfranchise voters.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, meanwhile, said it would move forward with a separate lawsuit challenging the voter ID law’s constitutionality. Fox is also the judge in that case and is scheduled to hold a hearing in that case May 2.