ACLU Asks Court To Uphold Ruling That Struck Down Arkansas Voter ID

Aug 11, 2014

A sign at a Little Rock polling location in March notifies voters they'll need to have a photo ID ready.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas is asking the state's highest court to uphold a judge's ruling that Arkansas' new voter identification law is unconstitutional.

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin had appealed the ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox, who struck down the law in May but put his decision on hold pending an appeal.

The case was filed by the ACLU of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center on behalf of four voters who they said would be harmed by the new requirement. In paperwork submitted Monday with the Arkansas Supreme Court, the groups argued that Fox's ruling should be upheld.

In a statement afterward, the ACLU wrote:

Several groups filed court papers in support of the voters’ case, including political science and law professors, social justice groups, and voter engagement organizations, outlining the lack of state legislative authority to pass a new qualification and emphasizing the impact on voters, from discouraging participation to creating impediments for voters in particular communities.

The law prohibits Arkansans from exercising their fundamental right to vote unless they present government‐approved photo ID. Based on national estimates, 10% of Arkansas voters lack the necessary ID. The law does not provide any assistance in helping voters obtain ID, such as transportation, payment for documents needed to obtain ID such as birth certificates, or aid in locating such documents.

If voters do not have photo ID, they must first cast a provisional ballot, then make a separate trip to the county clerk and swear that they are too “indigent” to obtain ID, which the ACLU and APLC maintain is intimidating and a burden, as the law does not specify what is considered “indigent.”

Also Monday, Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that the law is "overreaching and unnecessary."