Arkansas’s voter ID law was recently declared unconstitutional by a judge, who ruled that it violated the state constitution’s right to vote. But for now, the law is still in effect—and it created chaos and confusion in its first real test Tuesday. Just as troubling, the state’s election administrators are reacting with a collective shrug. Arkansas’s primaries, held Tuesday, were fairly low turnout affairs. But the state is playing host to a crucial and high-profile U.S. Senate race this fall. Among the problems reported from Tuesday: poll workers quizzing voters on their personal information, including address and birthdate, after being shown ID, and using electronic card strip readers to verify ID—both of which go far beyond what the law allows. Some voters without proper ID are said to have been wrongly denied provisional ballots. And large numbers of absentee ballots also are in danger of not being counted, thanks to the ID law. “We’re hearing from some pretty steamed voters,” said Holly Dickson, a lawyer with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, citing “a smorgasborg of complaints and issues” about the law’s application. The ACLU is challenging the law in court.
In two separate recent cases, Arkansas’s voter ID law, passed last year, has been struck down by the same state court judge, Tim Fox, who ruled that it violates the state constitution’s right to vote, since many Arkansans lack ID and can’t easily get one. But the state Supreme Court this month vacated one of those rulings, saying the constitutionality question wasn’t at issue in the case, and Fox put the other ruling on hold while it’s being appealed. That left the ID measure in place for Tuesday’s primaries.
There were no high-profile races on the ballot Tuesday, and turnout was relatively low, limiting the damage caused by the election problems. But that won’t be the case this November when Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is facing a tough re-election fight. The race could help decide control of the U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday morning, the Arkansas Times published written accounts from seven different voters of being asked for information after presenting their ID. “I was quizzed about my name, address and birthdate while the election volunteer held my license where I couldn’t see it,” wrote one voter.
Full Article: Arkansas voter ID law causes chaos and confusion | MSNBC.