The Arkansas House approved a plan Tuesday to reinstate a voter ID law that was struck down more than two years ago, with Republicans counting on a new state Supreme Court makeup to uphold the measure this time. The proposal approved by a 74-21 vote is nearly identical to a law the Republican Legislature enacted in 2013 requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. The state Supreme Court unanimously struck down the measure in 2014, with the majority of the court ruling it unconstitutionally added a new qualification for voting. The latest proposal is aimed at addressing a concern three of the court’s seven justices raised that the prohibition didn’t pass with enough votes in the Legislature when it was enacted in 2013. The proposal will need two-thirds support in both chambers, a threshold it easily cleared in the House. It now heads to the state Senate.
“We’ve got a new court and we have a new opportunity to establish what the law is on this,” Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger told lawmakers before the vote.
Four of the justices who struck down the 2013 law are no longer on the court, and one of the new justices is a former Republican state legislator. The three justices who said the 2013 law didn’t get the two-thirds vote needed remain on the court.
The justices no longer on the court weren’t voted out of office because of the ruling. Three retired and the fourth was an interim justice appointed to the court whose term expired at the end of 2014.