Arkansas’ Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday adopted rules for handling absentee ballots under the state’s new voter ID law despite a lawsuit that accuses the board of overstepping its authority. The rules allow an absentee voter who does not provide a proper ID when voting until noon on the Monday after the election to provide an approved form of ID — such as a copy of a driver’s license. The rules also say those absentee voters should be notified via first class mail that they must submit approved forms of identification before their votes can be counted. “What we’re doing is making sure that we’re not disenfranchising any voters,” said Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, the chairman of the election board.
Wednesday’s vote comes after the board initially voted in February to put in place temporary absentee ballot rules, which were set to expire July 12, said the board’s director, Justin Clay. The rule mirrors an identical “cure period” the law gives to voters who fail to show identification at the polls.
Before the February vote, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, issued a legal opinion in which he said absentee voters could not be given additional time to cast ballots, because that wasn’t specified in the state’s voter ID law.
The Pulaski County Election Commission also has filed a lawsuit against the board, saying the board exceeded its authority. A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for next Monday.