The state Republican Party can intervene in a lawsuit over how absentee ballots should be handled under the state’s new voter ID law, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Monday. The party had asked Judge Tim Fox to allow it to intervene in a lawsuit the Pulaski County Election Commission filed against the state Board of Election Commissioners. The suit alleges that the board exceeded its authority when it adopted rules on how absentee ballots should be handled when voters submit them without the proof of identity required under Act 595 of 2013. The attorney general’s office is representing the Board of Election Commissioners in the case. George Ritter, attorney for the state GOP, argued in a hearing Monday that the party should be allowed to intervene because Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, cannot provide vigorous and effective representation in the case.
The suit challenges the board’s rules stating that if an absentee voter fails to submit ID with a ballot, he or she should have until the Monday after the election to submit ID and have the ballot counted.
McDaniel said in a February advisory opinion that he believes Act 595 allows a “cure period” for in-person voters who fail to show photo ID but does not provide the same remedy for absentee voters who fail to submit ID — a position which Ritter argued would interfere with the ability of McDaniel’s office to defend the board’s rules.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Joseph Cordi Jr. told Fox on Monday, “I’m confident the opinion will not hold me back.”