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Arkansas: Effort to reinstate voter ID requirement among proposed amendments filed | Associated Press

The Arkansas Constitution would be amended to require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot under separate proposals lawmakers filed Wednesday in response to the state’s highest court striking down a 2013 voter ID law. The measures aimed at reinstating the voter ID law the state Supreme Court struck down in October were among about 40 constitutional amendments lawmakers have proposed putting on the 2016 ballot. Wednesday was the deadline to file proposed constitutional amendments. The Legislature can refer up to three amendments to voters. Arkansas’ majority-Republican Legislature approved the voter ID law two years ago, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat. Justices in October upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting.

Full Article: Effort to reinstate Arkansas' voter ID requirement among proposed amendments filed - Daily Journal.

Arkansas: High Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins for the Nov. 4 election. In a decision that could have major implications in the state’s election, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law violated the Arkansas Constitution by adding an additional requirement before voting. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down the law in May but suspended his ruling while it was being appealed. Arkansas is among a handful of states where voter ID requirements have been in limbo. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed new restrictions to take effect in North Carolina but blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement.

Full Article: Arkansas High Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law - ABC News.

Arkansas: State Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law, Saying It Exceeds State Constitution | New York Times

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.

Full Article: Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law, Saying It Exceeds State Constitution - NYTimes.com.

Arkansas: Justices signal skepticism on voter ID | Associated Press

If their questions during oral arguments last week are any indication, some Arkansas Supreme Court justices are skeptical about the idea that the state’s voter ID law amounts to merely a verification of registration and not a new requirement for casting a ballot. It’s an encouraging sign to voter ID opponents, but they still may wind up with a verdict that could leave unsettled the law’s constitutionality until after the November election. The 45-minute hearing before the court offered little new in a debate that was being fought long before the Republican-led Legislature approved the voter ID law over the objections of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe last year. The debate primarily boils down to whether requiring Arkansans to show photo ID before casting a ballot violates Arkansas’ constitution by imposing a new qualification to be a voter.

Full Article: Analysis: Justices signal skepticism on voter ID - Washington Times.

Arkansas: State Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Voter ID Case | Times Record

An Arkansas judge erred when he struck down Arkansas’ voter identification law, an official with Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office argued Thursday before the Arkansas Supreme Court. A lawyer for a group of voters challenging the law argued that the Supreme Court should uphold Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s May 2 ruling that the law imposes new qualifications for voting in Arkansas, in violation of the state constitution. The state’s highest court heard oral arguments but did not immediately issue a ruling in the state’s appeal of Fox’s ruling striking down Act 595 of 2013, which requires Arkansas voters to show photo identification at the polls. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed the Republican-backed measure last year, but the Republican-led Legislature overrode the veto. Fox stayed his ruling pending the state’s appeal, so Act 595 was in effect for the May 20 primary election. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has said more than 1,000 ballots went uncounted in that election because of the law.

Full Article: Arkansas Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Voter ID Case | Times Record.

Arkansas: Arguments set this week in Arkansas voter ID case | Associated Press

Arkansas’ highest court is set to take up a case this week that could decide whether the state’s voters will be required to show photo identification at the polls in the November election. The state Supreme Court on Thursday is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the lawsuit over Arkansas’ voter ID law, which took effect in January. With a U.S. Senate race that could determine which party controls that chamber, how the court rules could have national implications. … The Republican-led Legislature approved the voter ID law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. At the time, Beebe called the proposal an “expensive solution in search of a problem.”

Full Article: Arguments set this week in Arkansas voter ID case - SFGate.

Arkansas: Hundreds Disenfranchised By America’s Worst Voter ID Law | ThinkProgress

Last April, Arkansas’ Republican-controlled state legislature overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto to enact a strict photo ID law for all voters. But while Arkansas is now one of several states which suppress voting by requiring valid photo identification to vote at the polls, a unique and poorly written provision in the bill caused hundreds of absentee voters to also have their votes rejected in last month’s primary. The Arkansas ID law requires that people who show up to vote in person early or on Election Day show “proof of identity” before casting their ballots. That proof must be a driver’s license, a photo identification card, a concealed handgun carry license, a United States passport, an employee badge or identification document, a United States military identification document, a student identification card issued by an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the State of Arkansas, a public assistance identification card, or a state-issued voter identification photo ID card. Such laws have been shown to have both adiscriminatory intent and effect — and to depress voter participation. Even one of the Arkansas law’s strongest supporters, Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson, was initially turned away from voting in his own primary because he forgot his photo ID last month.

Full Article: Hundreds Disenfranchised By America's Worst Voter ID Law | ThinkProgress.

Editorials: Parties Eye Boost From Voter ID Debate | Andrew DeMillo/Arkansas Business News

A Pulaski County judge’s decision to strike down Arkansas’ voter ID law complicates planning for a primary that would have been the first statewide test of new voting restrictions, and reopens a debate that Democrats and Republicans both see as having an upside in this fall’s election. Ruling in a case that had focused on a narrow portion of the law, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox declared the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls “void and unenforceable” after saying it violates Arkansas’ constitution. His ruling was issued just a week and a half before early voting begins for Arkansas’ May 20 primary. It’s a case that will ultimately be decided by the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, he provided fodder for Democrats and Republicans alike to revive their arguments over the voter ID law that was approved last year. Just how much of a boost both parties hope to see from the ruling was immediately clear. Within an hour of Fox’s decision, state Democrats were fundraising off of his ruling. 

Full Article: Parties Eye Boost From Voter ID Debate (Andrew DeMillo Analysis) | Arkansas Business News | ArkansasBusiness.com.

Arkansas: Attorney General files notice of appeal in Voter ID case | Associated Press

Arkansas’ attorney general told a state judge on Friday he plans to appeal a decision that struck down a new voter ID law, while a civil liberties group said it will move forward with a separate challenge to the requirement. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office filed a notice of appeal over Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox’s ruling a day earlier that voided a new law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. McDaniel is appealing the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Fox had issued the ruling in a case that focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the new law. A spokesman for McDaniel’s office and the chairman of the state Republican Party both said they planned to ask the court to stay Fox’s ruling. The GOP had been given permission to help defend the state in the absentee ballot case, and has filed a separate notice of appeal. The state’s primary is May 20, and early voting for that election begins May 5.

Full Article: Arkansas AG files notice of appeal in Voter ID case | The Baxter Bulletin | baxterbulletin.com.

Arkansas: Issue of vote threshold for voter ID law saw debate, party-line votes | Arkansas News

While the state Legislature was debating the bill that became Arkansas’ voter ID law last year, Rep. Jim Nickels, D-Sherwood, argued that it had to meet a higher vote threshold than other bills. Nickels, a lawyer, said at the time that the bill to require voters to show photo identification at the polls required a two-thirds majority vote to pass because it would change the Arkansas Constitution by adding to the requirements to vote in Arkansas, which are set in the constitution. The bill’s supporters argued that the law would not change the constitution because it would only affect procedures at the polls. They said the eligibility requirements to be a voter would stay the same; the bill would merely require voters to prove they are who they say they are. “I feel vindicated,” Nickels said Friday, a day after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down Act 595 of 2013.

Full Article: Issue of vote threshold for voter ID law saw debate, party-line votes | Arkansas News.

Arkansas: Judge voids Arkansas voter ID law | Associated Press

An Arkansas judge struck down the state’s new voter ID law on Thursday, saying it violates the state constitution by adding a requirement that voters must meet before casting a ballot. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox voided the measure in a lawsuit over the way absentee ballots are handled under the law. A separate lawsuit had been filed last week directly challenging the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. The law “is declared void and unenforceable,” Fox wrote in the ruling. The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate. Backers of the measure said it was aimed at reducing voter fraud, while opponents said it would disenfranchise voters. A spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, says the state Board of Election Commissioners has asked McDaniel’s office to appeal Thursday’s ruling, and it will do so.

Full Article: Arkansas judge voids state voter ID law - The Washington Post.

Arkansas: Proposal to avoid special election for lieutenant governor advances | Arkansas News

A resolution that would allow consideration of legislation to let the governor forgo calling a special election for lieutenant governor was approved by the Senate and a House committee on Tuesday, the second day of the Legislature’s fiscal session. Senate Resolution 6 by Senate Majority Leader Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, was approved 32-0. The House version, House Bill 1009 by House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Rules Committee in a voice vote in which no “no” votes were heard. The resolution advances to the full House, where a two-thirds majority vote will be required to consider the non-budget proposal in a fiscal session.

Full Article: UPDATE Proposal to avoid special election for lieutenant governor advances | Arkansas News.

Arkansas: Panel suggests voter ID changes | Gannett

Election commissioners in Craighead County have suggested a change in Arkansas’ voter ID law, saying they received conflicting advice on how to treat absentee ballots submitted during a recent special election. The local panel said the State Board of Election Commissioners told them voters were required to present a valid form of identification when turning in ballots during a special state Senate election this month, and that any that came in without a proper ID should be rejected. The secretary of state told the Craighead County Election Commission to give voters a period of time to show a proper ID after submitting an absentee ballot. Craighead County Election Commission Chairman Scott McDaniel said the panel chose to wait and give voters extra time. In a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe, Secretary of State Mark Martin, the Election Commissioners Board and numerous state senators and representatives, the Craighead County panel said it was concerned that, in the future, different counties would follow different procedures involving the same race.

Full Article: Panel suggests voter ID changes | The Baxter Bulletin | baxterbulletin.com.

Arkansas: Special election pinpoints problems in new voter ID law | Arkansas News

The special election for the vacant state Senate District 21 seat could have been quite controversial if it had been closer. Perhaps the result will at least provide state officials with a hint that they should be prepared for disputed election results under a new law. Since Saturday the Craighead County Election Commission has been publishing a one-third page advertisement in the classified section of The Jonesboro Sun aimed especially at voters who cast an absentee ballot in the Jan. 14 special election but failed to provide the identification required under Act 595 of 2013. 

Full Article: Special election pinpoints problems in new voter ID law | Arkansas News.

Voting Blogs: In Arkansas, Face Off Over New Voter ID Law | State of Elections

Controversy surrounding voter identification laws has now reached the Natural State. On April 1, 2013, the Arkansas state legislature completed abicameral majority vote overriding Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto of a law requiring voters to show photo ID. The law, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014, provides for the state to issue a free photo ID to voters who lack one. The law also allows a voter without photo identification to cast a provisional ballot on election day. The provisional ballot will be counted if the voter reports to the county clerk or county board of election commissioners by noon of the Monday following the election, with proof of identity or an affidavit showing the voter is either indigent or has a religious objection to being photographed.  Voter identification laws have proven contentious throughout the country, and the new Arkansas law is no exception. When questioned about the impetus behind the new legislation, State Senator Bryan King (R), primary sponsor of the bill, stated, “The purpose of the law is to ensure electoral integrity.” 

Full Article: In Arkansas, Face Off Over New Voter ID Law : State of Elections.

Arkansas: Panel approves rules for voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ top elections panel on Wednesday approved guidelines for how poll workers should enforce the state’s new voter ID law when it takes effect next year, after it removed a proposal that one member warned could lead to political favoritism. The state Board of Election Commissioners unanimously approved the rules, which closely mirror those outlined in the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in April despite Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto. Before approving the new guidelines, the panel voted to remove a provision that would have allowed poll supervisors to settle disputes when voters don’t resemble their ID photos. Board member Stu Soffer, who called for the provision’s removal, said the voter ID law didn’t give them the authority to include that step in the rules. He said the voter could cast a provisional ballot even if their identity is challenged, and the final decision could be made by the county election commission.

Full Article: Arkansas panel approves rules for voter ID law - News - Stuttgart Daily Leader - Stuttgart, AR - Stuttgart, AR.

Arkansas: Panel approves rules for voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ top elections panel on Wednesday approved guidelines for how poll workers should enforce the state’s new voter ID law when it takes effect next year, after it removed a proposal that one member warned could lead to political favoritism. The state Board of Election Commissioners unanimously approved the rules, which closely mirror those outlined in the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in April despite Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto. Before approving the new guidelines, the panel voted to remove a provision that would have allowed poll supervisors to settle disputes when voters don’t resemble their ID photos. Board member Stu Soffer, who called for the provision’s removal, said the voter ID law didn’t give them the authority to include that step in the rules. He said the voter could cast a provisional ballot even if their identity is challenged, and the final decision could be made by t! he county election commission.

Full Article: The Courier - Your Messenger for the River Valley - Panel approves rules for voter ID law.

Arkansas: Rules Approved For New Voter ID Law | Arkansas Matters

The Arkansas Board of Election Commission approved rules Wednesday related to the new photo voter ID law that takes effect in January. Beginning in 2014, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office will issue photo identification to any voter that does not already have one. Supporters of the legislation say it will cut down on election fraud. Legislators opposed during the 2013 session argued the new law could have the effect of curbing the votes of the elderly and minorities. 

Full Article: Rules Approved For New Voter ID Law - ArkansasMatters.com - Central Arkansas' Source for News, Weather, and Sports covering Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Cabot, Searcy, Hot Springs, and the rest of Central Arkansas.

Voting Blogs: Who’s The Boss? Arkansas, Florida Debate State Power to Discipline Local Election Officials | Election Academy

In recent weeks, two states have engaged in fierce debates over whether or not state election officials can engage in oversight and/or discipline of local election officials:

+ In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has vetoed a series of bills that would have consolidated authority at the state level, including giving the State Board of Election Commissioners the power”to remove a county election commissioner if not qualified or for failure to perform duties.”

+ In Florida, an election reform bill that just passed the Senate on a party-line vote includes a provision that would allow the Secretary of State to put a county election supervisor on “noncompliant status” under state law. That status would allow the state to dock a supervisor’s pay for problems associated with the election process.

Full Article: Who's The Boss? Arkansas, Florida Debate State Power to Discipline Local Election Officials - Election Academy.

Arkansas: Beebe vetoes partisan election oversight bills | Arkansas Times

Gov. Mike Beebe cleared his desk of pending legislation today, signing all but three bills by Sen. Bryan King to put more power over election oversight in the office of secretary of state, now held by Republican Mark Martin. Beebe vetoed these bills:

* SB 719, to create an investigative unit in Martin’s office to investigate election complaints, a power already given to the state Board of Election Commissioners. Beebe said the bill “transfers virtually unfettered investigative power and authority to a partisan-elected official over complaints against persons accused, sometimes by political rivals, of violating election laws. However, while the bill makes it clear that the unit “shall” investigate “any” such complaint, the bill makes no provision for those cases in which a complaint might relate to the activities of the secretary of state or his/her office, or persons running for that office. Placing such unfettered authority in a partisan-elected office is a profoundly bad idea.

Full Article: UPDATE: Beebe vetoes partisan election oversight bills | Arkansas Blog.