The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter identification law on Wednesday, saying that it would set a new requirement for voting beyond those listed in the state’s Constitution. The ruling came less than three weeks before the Nov. 4 election in a state where there are several close contests this year, including for governor and the United States Senate. A day earlier, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas could enforce its voter identification requirements in the November election. The Arkansas ruling found that the law went beyond the four qualifications for voting in the state Constitution. The Constitution says that a voter must be a United States citizen, a resident of the state, at least 18 years old and lawfully registered to vote in the election. “These four qualifications set forth in our state’s Constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement,” the ruling said.
The ruling was written by Associate Justice Donald L. Corbin. A concurring opinion, written by Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson, agreed that the law should be struck down, but for a different reason. Justice Goodson wrote that the law failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature, which was a requirement to amend laws “initiated by the people,” she argued.
Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the voter identification law last year, but state lawmakers overrode the veto. Earlier this year, a judge found that the state’s law was unconstitutional but said he would not block its enforcement because there was not enough time to do so before the primary election in May.