The Pulaski County Election Commission and County Clerk Larry Crane have filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners over rules on how county election commissioners should handle absentee ballots under the state’s new voter-identification law, alleging the board overstepped its authority. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, asks that the rules passed Feb. 28 be declared invalid. The rules allow an absentee voter who does not provide a proper ID when voting until noon on the Monday after the election to provide an approved form of ID — such as a copy of a driver’s license. The rules also say those absentee voters should be notified via first class mail that they must submit approved forms of identification before their votes can be counted.
Pulaski County Attorney Karla Burnett said the new rules go outside the scope of the voter ID law, which requires photo identification for voters at the polls and some form of identification for absentee voters. “This law is not ambiguous,” Burnett told the Arkansas Democrat-gazette (http://bit.ly/1i862XY). “This law is clear on its face.”
State election board attorney Tim Humphries and director Justin Clay said state law allows the board to make rules to ensure “fair and orderly election procedures,” which they say was the basis for the rules.
The rules were drafted after commissioners asked Feb. 19 for an emergency rule change that would be “consistent with the Secretary of State’s interpretation of (the law) allowing for absentee ballots that are returned without required identification to be counted.”
“Ultimately, I think the board felt there may have been ambiguity in the law,” Clay said.