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.Full Article: Order blocking Arkansas voter ID law appealed.
Articles about voting issues in Arkansas.
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.”Full Article: Arkansas judge blocks state’s revived voter ID law - The Washington Post.
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.Full Article: Arkansas attorney general again rejects bid to create panel to draw state's districts.
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.”Full Article: Lacking ruling from judge on state's voter-ID law, first ballots for spring primary go out.
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.Full Article: Arkansas Supreme Court declines to intervene in voter ID case | Arkansas Blog.
The latest legal test over state Republicans’ efforts to enact new identification requirements for voting is pushing up against soon-approaching deadlines for the May 22 elections, prompting Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office to ask the courts to hurry up. The top attorney for the secretary of state’s office, A.J. Kelly, filed a petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court late Thursday that asks justices to force a Pulaski County circuit judge to issue an order on an injunction request by next Friday. That is the deadline for the office to mail ballots to military members and overseas voters. Kelly also issued a letter to the circuit judge, Alice Gray, reminding her of the deadline and asking her to rule before it occurs. Gray responded with a letter to Kelly, imploring patience of Martin and his attorneys.Full Article: State wants speedup of ruling on voter IDs.
Additional pleadings have been filed in the citizen’s lawsuit challenging the new Arkansas voter ID law that includes evidence the new law resulted in votes in a recent special election in Russellville not being counted. The 2017 law was passed after an earlier Arkansas Supreme Court ruling said the addition of a required photo ID to vote was an unconstitutional new barrier to voting. Thanks to that case, evidence has been compiled by the ACLU showing that more than 1,000 registered voters did not have votes counted because of the law. The new law tries to skirt that decision by calling the voter ID provision part of a new registration process allowed by the state Constitution. Its defenders argue that the law provides a way to cast a vote without an ID.Full Article: Arkansas voter ID law an impediment to voting, lawsuit argues | Arkansas Blog.
An attorney for a Little Rock man challenging Arkansas’ voter ID law called the measure an end run around a court decision striking down a nearly identical state law four years ago, while attorneys for the state called the provision a proper way to verify a voter’s registration. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray didn’t say when she would rule on a request to block the law’s enforcement in Arkansas’ May 22 primary after a day of testimony and arguments from lawyers for the state and the voter challenging the measure, Barry Haas of Little Rock. Early voting for the primary is set to begin May 7.Full Article: Arkansas judge considers request to block voter ID law - Times Union.
A 7-month-old law that requires Arkansas voters to show a government-endorsed photo identification to ensure that their ballot is counted goes before a judge today for the first test of its legality. Longtime Pulaski County poll worker Barry Haas, represented by Little Rock attorney Jeff Priebe, has asked Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray to block continued enforcement of Act 633 of 2017 until a trial that would determine whether the provision is legal. To prevail, Haas will have to show that the identification law violates the state constitution and that his legal arguments are likely going to prevail at that yet-to-be-scheduled trial. He sued the secretary of state and the state Board of Election last month, challenging the legality of the law. Gray is scheduled to hear arguments at 9:45 a.m.Full Article: Voter-ID law at polls faces 1st legal test.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims the state’s new voter-identification law is just as flawed as the one the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional almost four years ago. The 23-page petition asks Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray to similarly rule that Act 633 of 2017 is illegal. The law requires voters, in order to guarantee that their ballots are counted, prove to election officials by use of government-issued photo identification that they are registered to vote. The statute the high court struck down in 2014 required people to use photo IDs to prove their identity before voting.Full Article: State's '17 voter-ID law fatally flawed, suit says.
A former Arkansas lawmaker serving on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity died Monday in Little Rock. David Dunn, a lifelong Democrat from Forrest City who served three terms in the state House of Representatives, died at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock while undergoing surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm, friends said. He was 52 years old. Dunn, who grew up in Pine Bluff, was a former executive director of the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. After serving in the General Assembly from 2005-11, he co-founded Capitol Partners, a Little Rock lobbying firm.Full Article: Arkansan on Trump voter group dies at 52.
In a quiet corner of the Pulaski County Courthouse, a desktop computer and a camera meant to provide voter IDs sat unused last week. A special election for a tax increase in North Little Rock has been one of the first tests of the state’s new voter identification law. The law requires voters to either show photo IDs or sign documents to confirm their identities. Election day is Tuesday. Early voting ends today. At the close of business Friday, 1,086 people had cast early votes in the election at one of two locations, including the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock across the street from the courthouse. During early voting from last Tuesday through midafternoon Friday, eight were unable to show a photo identification, but their provisional ballots will be counted because they signed forms affirming their identities, said Bryan Poe, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission.Full Article: In test of Arkansas voter law, the jury's still out.
Arkansas’ revived law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot will be put to the test — and come under heightened scrutiny by opponents who fear the new measure could lead to disenfranchisement— when it takes effect this week. Voters heading to the polls early in three cities and two counties Tuesday for special elections on sales tax measures will be required to show photo ID before casting a ballot, or sign a sworn statement confirming their identity under the law approved by the Legislature earlier this year. The measure revives a similar voter ID restriction that was struck down by the state’s highest court three years ago. The American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully challenged Arkansas’ previous voter ID law, said it’ll be watching carefully to see how the latest restriction is enforced during early voting and on the Aug. 8 election day to prepare for another potential lawsuit if voters are being disenfranchised.Full Article: Local elections first test for revived Arkansas voter ID law - StarTribune.com.
Arkansas legislators have approved rules necessary to implement a new voter-identification law that could go into effect as early as September. The state Board of Election Commissioners approved the rules Wednesday for a new law that says voters should show photo identification before casting ballots, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2sunKSh ) reported. Those without photo identification can sign a sworn statement saying they’re registered voters in the state. “We’ve had some complaints on that over the past year,” said Keith Rutledge, director of the Board of Election Commissioners. “This pretty much will clear that up. You either show me your ID or you sign this affidavit — basically.”Full Article: Arkansas closer to adopting voter ID law | Miami Herald.
The state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday approved rules necessary to implement a new voter-identification law, clearing the way for ballots to be cast under the legislation as soon as September. Instead of asking for photo identification — but not requiring it — the proposed rules and Act 633 of 2017, by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, make the process more straightforward, said Keith Rutledge, director of the Board of Election Commissioners. “We’ve had some complaints on that over the past year,” he said. “This pretty much will clear that up. You either show me your ID or you sign this affidavit — basically.” The law and the proposed rules tell voters to show photo identification before casting ballots, but allow people without photo identification to sign a sworn statement saying they are registered voters in Arkansas.Full Article: Election panel endorses rules under ID law.
Arkansas: As elections association comes to end, officials look to form replacement | Arkansas Denicrat-Gazette
A group of Northwest Arkansas election commissioners plans to start a new organization to replace the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association, which is set to dissolve this year. “We can really help each other,” said Bill Ackerman, Washington County Election Commission chairman. “The door is open to all the counties who want to be here.” Commissioners from about 11 counties agreed Wednesday to hold an organizational meeting June 28 in Fayetteville. Previously, the local County Boards of Election Commissioners meetings have been attended by representatives from about seven Northwest Arkansas counties. Others, including Marion and Pope counties, were recently invited. Commissioners said they want an organization that will lobby lawmakers, answer questions on how commissioners should implement new laws and provide peer-to-peer support.Full Article: As elections association comes to end, NW officials look to form replacement.
Arkansas’ governor signed a measure Friday requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, reinstating a voter ID law that was struck down by the state’s highest court more than two years ago. The bill signed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson closely mirrors the law enacted by the Legislature in 2013 that was found unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court the following year. The latest law is aimed at addressing the argument by some justices that the 2013 law didn’t receive enough votes in the Legislature to be enacted. Unlike that measure, the latest version of the requirement allows voters with a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identity.Full Article: Gov. Hutchinson Passes Arkansas Voter ID Bill | Fortune.com.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law Friday aimed at resurrecting many of the requirements of a voter-identification law that was struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2014. House Bill 1047, by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, will require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots. It also will require the secretary of state’s office to issue free photo identification cards to those who lack other acceptable identification. A new provision — not included in the old law — allows people without photo identification to sign a sworn statement saying they are registered in Arkansas. By signing that statement, they will be allowed to cast provisional ballots to be verified later. “I’ve always supported reasonable requirements for verification of voter registration,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “This law is different — in a number of ways — than the previous law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court. It should hold up under any court review. For those reasons, I signed the bill into law.”Full Article: Voter-ID law on books; it's different from '13, governor says.
A legislative panel on Wednesday narrowly rejected a bill that would transfer $18.5 million in surplus funds from the state Insurance Department’s trust fund to the secretary of state’s office to buy voting equipment for counties. The 14-member subcommittee’s 7-2 vote on Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, fell one vote short of the eight votes required for approval. Hester said the money would buy “much-needed voting machines in each of our districts.” SB297 also would grant the secretary of state’s office $34.5 million in spending authority for county voting system grants.Full Article: Bill to buy poll gear falls short.
Lawmakers on Monday sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk a bill to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The House concurred in Senate amendments to House Bill 1047 by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, which House members previously approved in different form. The concurrence was the final hurdle the bill had to clear to go to the governor. A spokesman for Hutchinson said Monday the governor generally supports a photo ID requirement for voters but would need to take a closer look at HB 1047 before deciding whether to sign it.Full Article: Lawmakers send voter ID bill to Arkansas governor.