Arkansas’ revived law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot will be put to the test — and come under heightened scrutiny by opponents who fear the new measure could lead to disenfranchisement— when it takes effect this week. Voters heading to the polls early in three cities and two counties Tuesday for special elections on sales tax measures will be required to show photo ID before casting a ballot, or sign a sworn statement confirming their identity under the law approved by the Legislature earlier this year. The measure revives a similar voter ID restriction that was struck down by the state’s highest court three years ago. The American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully challenged Arkansas’ previous voter ID law, said it’ll be watching carefully to see how the latest restriction is enforced during early voting and on the Aug. 8 election day to prepare for another potential lawsuit if voters are being disenfranchised.
“If voters are harmed under this law, then we’re going to be evaluating whether and when we should file suit,” Holly Dickson, legal director for the ACLU of Arkansas, said last week.
Thirty-four states have laws requiring or requesting voters show some form of voter ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arkansas enacted a similar voter ID law in 2013, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court the following year. The new law, approved in March, is aimed at addressing the argument by some justices that the 2013 law didn’t receive enough votes in the Legislature to be enacted. Lawmakers also placed a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID on the 2018 ballot.