Secretary of state asks judge to keep voter ID law in effect


LITTLE ROCK — A judge’s stay of his ruling that Arkansas’ voter ID law is unconstitutional should remain in place, Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office argued in a filing Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Pulaski Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled May 2 that Act 595 of 2013, which requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, is unconstitutional because it imposes qualifications for voting in Arkansas that go beyond the qualifications set out in the state constitution. Fox stayed his ruling, however, so Act 595 remained in effect in the May 20 primary election and the June 10 runoff election.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Law Center, representing a group of Arkansas voters, filed a motion in June asking Fox to lift his stay. They said more than 1,000 ballots went uncounted in the May 20 election because of the requirements of Act 595 and that more voters will be disenfranchised if the law is in effect for the Nov. 4 general election.

In its response filed Wednesday, the secretary of state’s office argued that Fox no longer has jurisdiction in the matter because the case is on appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“Plaintiffs’ action in this case comes too late for the trial court to consider, and too early for the Supreme Court to have had its say in the matter,” Martin’s office argued in the response.

Martin’s office asked Fox for a hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion.

Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed Act 595 during the 2013 regular legislative session, but the Republican-led Legislature overrode the veto.

In Jefferson County, 90 absentee ballots from the May 20 primary were not counted because they failed to meet the new ID standards, election coordinator Will Fox III said in an earlier Commercial article. Will Fox said he believed there was also one documented case from the primary of a voter being turned away from the polls on election day because of a lack of voter ID. In the June 10 runoff election, no ballots were rejected because of voter ID issues, he said.