A hearing has been scheduled in a lawsuit over how absentee ballots should be handled under the state’s new voter ID law. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Tuesday scheduled a hearing on motions in the case for Monday at 9 a.m. The suit, filed March 12 by the Pulaski County Election Commission and Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, alleges that the state Board of Election Commissioners exceeded its authority when it adopted an emergency rule in February concerning absentee ballots. Also this week, the commission argued in a filing that the state GOP should not be allowed to intervene in the case. The emergency rule states that if county election officials receive an absentee ballot that is not accompanied by a copy of the voter’s ID, as required under Act 595 of 2013, they should treat it as a provisional ballot and give the voter until noon on the Monday following the election to submit ID and have the ballot counted.
State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb filed a motion last month to intervene in the case, arguing that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cannot adequately represent the Board of Election Commissioners because he has shown an “obvious bias” against Act 595.
McDaniel said in an advisory opinion in February that he believes Act 595 provides a “cure period” for in-person voters who fail to show photo ID but does not provide one for absentee voters who fail to submit ID with their ballot — an opinion that is at odds with the Board of Election Commissioners’ emergency rule.
The commission argued Monday in its response to Webb’s motion that the state GOP’s interest in the case is no greater than that of any voter.
“Proposed intervenor’s alleged interest in the case is only of a general — not a direct and substantial — concern,” the commission said in its filing.