The Arkansas Supreme Court today set oral arguments Oct. 2 on the challenge of the 2013 voter ID law, which requires identification for both in-person and absentee voters.
The ACLU and the Arkansas Public Law Center are supporting the lawsuit as an unconstitutional new obstacle to voting prohibited by the state Constitution. It’s an outgrowth of a national Republican effort to make voting harder among groups generally inclined to vote Democratic — minorities, poor people and college students.
The ID law was in effect in the recent primary and about 1,000 absentee voters were disqualified, the overwhelmign number Democratic, though election commissioners believed they were legitimately registered voters.
Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down the law as unconstitutional, but the state appealed. He stayed his ruling, however.
There’s time between an Oct. 2 argument and the Nov. 4 election to decide the case and allow the election to proceed without the new requirement. Generally, about three weeks elapses. Were the law to be struck down, the old procedure would be easy to put back in place it seems to me. It requires that voters be asked for a photo ID, but they don’t have to produce it. The check of address and signature by election officials would still apply.
Note: Early voting begins Oct. 20, a few days short of three weeks after the oral arguments. But in election cases, the court sometimes departs from its normal Thursday release of opinions.
Plaintiffs have asked Fox to lift his stay and allow his order enjoining enforcement of the law to take effect. I don’t expect that to happen before the arguments, however.