Some confusing and inaccurate statements by Secretary of State Mark Martin and his office staff have prompted a clarifying statement from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office on yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the state voter ID law.
The Court’s decision yesterday makes it clear that the voter ID law is invalid and does not apply to the upcoming election. All ballots, including absentee ballots, should be handled in the manner they were before the law was enacted.
Some clerks have asked about the requirement for first-time voters. After this decision, there are now no circumstances which absolutely require a photo ID in order to vote. Some first-time voters will need to provide some type of identification, but there are alternatives to providing a photo ID.
The second paragraph corrects and clarifies a statement sent to county officials by Mark Martin’s office. It said that ALL first-time voters would be expected to provide an photo ID. As I reported earlier today, the Constitution provides for production of some type of ID by first-time voters who registered by mail without including an ID. But it is not a blanket requirement nor does it require the type of ID specified in the now defunct 2013 voter ID law.
Other election officials have provided Martin’s office with the correct information. Whether he will issue a corrective or not is not known.
Early voting begins Monday. I again invite anyone denied a ballot or made to file a provisional ballot after being asked to produce a photo ID to write me or the ACLU with specifics of your encounter. Somebody will be flouting the law in such a case.
Martin had also been quoted as saying he’d defend the law to “the fullest extent possible.” There is no way to defend a non-existent law except to ignore a court ruling. Martin apparently has bowed to judicial supremacy in the matter.
UPDATE: Mark Martin has bowed to the law. His office issued this statement:
Supreme Court Rules Photo ID Not Required At the Polls
Secretary of State Mark Martin announces as of October 16, 2014, 4:39 p.m. Voters are no longer required to provide “proof of identity”(photo ID) in order to vote in person in the General Election. The law reverts back to the previous statute that existed prior to Act 595. Further, poll workers are still required by law to ask for identification; however, voters are not required to provide identification in order to vote.
Before the passage of the Voter ID law, state and federal law required first time voters to provide identification. Voters who register to vote by mail and fail to include valid identification will be required to provide identification at the polls.
For those First Time Voters, examples of identification required are: a valid photo id or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.
Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the challenged parts of Act 595, otherwise known as the Voter ID law. Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 595 on April 1, 2013, which required Arkansas residents to provide “proof of identity” when voting at the polls.
Please keep in mind, Arkansas has “fail safe voting” in place: voters can vote a Provisional Ballot at the polls if any problems or discrepancies should arise. County Board of Election Commissioners will notify voters of their appointment time to provide any additional information in order for their vote to count.
We will continue to review and further clarify the ruling as time permits.