The Arkansas Supreme Court tossed out a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s voter ID law on Wednesday, but stopped short of ruling on the constitutionality of the measure. In a 5-2 ruling, justices vacated a Pulaski County judge’s decision that the law violates Arkansas’ constitution. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had struck down the law in a case that had focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the law, but justices stayed his ruling while they considered an appeal. Fox also has ruled the law unconstitutional in a separate case but said he wouldn’t block its enforcement during this month’s primary. That ruling is being appealed to the high court. Justices said Fox didn’t have the authority to strike down the law in the case focusing on absentee ballots. They noted that there was no request before Fox in the case to strike down the law.
“The question then becomes whether the constitutionality of the act was properly before the circuit court for a ruling. Based on the record before us, we must conclude that the answer to that question is no,” Justice Paul Danielson wrote.
The court, however, upheld part of Fox’s decision that a state panel didn’t have the authority to give absentee voters additional time to show ID if they didn’t include a copy of their identification with their ballot. Arkansas is amid early voting ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.
The ruling comes as voter ID laws are being challenged throughout the nation. Though 31 states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, Arkansas’ in one of the strictest in the nation. Seven other states have photo ID requirements in effect similar to Arkansas.