Articles about voting issues in Arkansas.

Arkansas: Lack of paper trail an election concern | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

All but two of the 75 counties in Arkansas use voting machines that create paper copies of each ballot cast. Clerks in Union and Ouachita counties said they’ve never had a problem with their voting equipment. Election security experts have raised concerns about voting devices that don’t produce receipts for individual voters because the lack of those receipts makes it hard to ensure no votes were manipulated. Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford acknowledged those concerns are the biggest drawback to his county’s current voting machines, which the county plans to replace before the general election in November. Read More

Arkansas: 3 judge panel assigned to redistricting suit | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A three-judge panel was appointed last week in the Eastern District of Arkansas to preside over a lawsuit challenging the way Arkansas lawmakers enacted a legislative redistricting plan in 2011. In the suit, Julius J. Larry III, a retired civil-rights attorney in Houston, Texas, who became the publisher of the weekly Little Rock Sun black newspaper in 2013, contends that the boundaries of the 1st Congressional District were set to intentionally dilute black voting strength, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, to whom the case was assigned, on April 23 dismissed a second claim in which Larry said the state gerrymandered the boundaries in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, saying that because he lives in Little Rock, in the 2nd Congressional District, he lacked standing to pursue that claim. Read More

Arkansas: Vote changes keeping Northwest Arkansas election officials on their toes | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Unopposed candidates won’t appear on the ballot for the first time, but school board candidates will join primary and judicial ones when voters head to the polls beginning Monday. And this time, voters need to bring a photo ID. Election officials do what they can to inform the electorate and keep the process simple. Washington County’s election commissioners sat around a table Wednesday trying to figure out which set of documents they would post at poll sites on Monday. Each set outlined different protocols for poll workers and voters depending on what happened with a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. The law was in limbo after a circuit judge deemed it unconstitutional April 26. The state wanted the Arkansas Supreme Court to halt the judge’s order blocking the law’s enforcement. Read More

Arkansas: Justices halt voter-ID ruling; voters must prove identities at polls this month | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared election officials to enforce the state’s controversial voter-ID law in this month’s primary and judicial elections. Only last week, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray declared the 2017 law unconstitutional, but the high court, in a one-page order, halted Gray’s injunction. Since August last year, the law — Act 633 of 2017 — has required voters to show government-issued identification to poll workers to ensure their votes are counted. Secretary of State Mark Martin appealed Gray’s ruling, asking the state’s high court to stay the circuit judge’s decision until after the May 22 election, when the matter can be fully heard. Chief Justice John Dan Kemp would’ve denied Martin’s request, the court’s order notes. Early voting for the May 22 primary begins Monday. Read More

Arkansas: State Supreme Court says state can enforce voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ highest court on Wednesday said the state can enforce a voter ID law in the May 22 primary election despite a judge declaring the measure unconstitutional. By a vote of 6-1 the Supreme Court put on hold a Pulaski County judge’s decision blocking the law’s enforcement. Early voting for the primary begins Monday. The state Supreme Court did not elaborate on its reasons for the decision in its one-page order. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray last week ruled the law was an unconstitutional effort to reinstate a 2013 voter ID law. That 2013 measure was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2014. “We now have clear direction from the Court that the law we have been operating under since last August remains in effect for the Primary Election, until further orders from the Supreme Court,” said Chris Powell, a spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, who had requested the ruling. Read More

Arkansas: Order blocking voter ID law appealed | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

As expected, state lawyers on Friday appealed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray’s decision to block the voter identification law. The judge ruled Thursday that the General Assembly had created the requirement that voters show government-approved photo identification by inserting an unsupportable contradiction in the state Constitution, which controls the election process. With early voting starting May 7, less than two weeks away, Secretary of State Mark Martin and the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners went right to the Arkansas Supreme Court rather than petition Gray to stay her own order. Martin, represented by Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly, the secretary’s general counsel, and the commissioners, through Dylan Jacobs, assistant solicitor general for the Arkansas attorney general, launched separate appeals almost simultaneously Friday. Read More

Arkansas: Judge blocks state’s revived voter ID law | Associated Press

An Arkansas judge on Thursday blocked a voter ID law that’s nearly identical to a measure the state’s highest court found unconstitutional about four years ago. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray granted a preliminary injunction barring the law from being enforced and finding the measure unconstitutional less than a month before Arkansas’ May 22 primary. Early voting for the primary begins May 7. Gray called the measure an unconstitutional attempt to impose additional requirements to vote, siding with a Little Rock voter who challenged the law. “Plaintiff is faced with the choice of complying with the unconstitutional requirements imposed by (the voter ID law) or not having his ballot counted during the May 2018 preferential primary,” Gray wrote. “The court finds that this is not really a choice at all, and that irreparable harm would result to plaintiff in the absence of a preliminary injunction, as his ballot will not be counted.” Read More

Arkansas: Attorney general again rejects bid to create panel to draw state’s districts | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday rejected, for the second time, the ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment that would create an independent commission to draw Arkansas’ legislative and congressional district boundaries. Rutledge first shot down the proposed amendment’s title last month, citing ambiguities in the text. She noted additional unclear terms Friday. Little Rock attorney David Couch, who wrote the proposal, said the objections raised in Friday’s opinion are different from those raised in the first rejection. Read More

Arkansas: Lacking ruling from judge on state’s voter-ID law, first ballots for spring primary go out | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The first ballots of Arkansas’ spring primary began their route to military and out-of-the-country voters Friday, as the secretary of state’s office said it was moving forward with its normal electoral tasks absent a judge’s order not to. A lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeks to block the enforcement of Arkansas’ new voter-identification law during the primaries, set to be one of the first elections in which voters will be required to show photo IDs or swear to their identities. Last week, attorneys for Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office wrote a letter to the circuit judge, Alice Gray, reminding her that “the Preferential Primary Election begins on April 6, 2018, with the mandatory delivery of live ballots to military voters out of jurisdiction and overseas citizens voting by absentee ballot.” Read More

Arkansas: State Supreme Court declines to intervene in voter ID case | Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied Secretary of State Mark Martin’s request that the high court force Circuit Judge Alice Gray to make a ruling on whether to block the state’s voter ID law “well in advance” of April 6.  Gray has said she will rule before April 6, when the secretary of state must deliver ballots to military voters out of jurisdiction and overseas citizens voting by absentee ballot.   Read More