The state Board of Election Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve proposed permanent rules on how absentee ballots should be handled under Arkansas’ new voter ID law. The rules state that if an absentee voter fails to submit a copy of his or her identification with an absentee ballot, as required under Act 595 of 2013, the ballot should be treated as a provisional ballot and the voter should be given until noon on the Monday following the election to submit ID and have the ballot counted. The rules go next to the Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for review.
The seven-member Board of Election Commissioners approved a temporary version of the rules in February, declaring that an emergency existed. Those rules have been challenged by the Pulaski County Election Commission, which has filed a lawsuit alleging that the board exceeded its authority in adopting rules that go beyond the provisions of Act 595.
Attorney General Dustin 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 the Pulaski County Election Commission has argued supports its position.