Arkansas’ highest court on Thursday upheld a voter ID law that is nearly identical to a restriction struck down by the court four years ago. The 5-2 decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court means the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, will remain in effect in this year’s midterm election. Unlike the measure struck down in 2014, the law approved last year allows voters to cast provisional ballots without a photo ID if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities. Opponents of the new measure had argued that it circumvented the 2014 ruling. But justices on Thursday said lawmakers had the power to enact the restriction by labeling it a change to a constitutional amendment related to voter registration requirements and was “therefore constitutional.”
“In our view, providing a system of verifying that a person attempting to cast a ballot is registered to vote is relevant and pertinent, or has a close relationship, to an amendment establishing a system of voter registration,” the court said.
The Thursday ruling reversed a judge’s ruling against the law, which was approved last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and governor. A judge had blocked officials from enforcing the restriction, but justices in May stayed that ruling and kept the law in effect while they considered the case.