Circuit Judge Alice Gray has set a hearing March 12 on a lawsuit that asks that she enjoin use of the state’s new voter ID law in the May primary elections.
A public interest lawsuit with Barry Haas as plaintiff and Jeff Priebe his attorney argues that the new law remains unconstitutional, as the Arkansas Supreme Court held in a 2014 case advanced by Priebe on a previous version of the law requiring a photo ID to vote. The 2017 legislature tinkered with the language to make the law change appear to apply to voter registration procedures, which are covered in a separate part of the Constitution, but the lawsuit argues that the law still presents a new obstacle to voting, which the Constitution prohibits.
The membership of the Arkansas Supreme Court has changed dramatically since the last ruling, however.
Last week, Secretary of State Mark Martin, a defendant in the case filed his response to the lawsuit. Her rests his response on a three-judge concurring opinion written in the earlier case by justices remaining on the court, Courtney Goodson, Karen Baker and Josephine Hart. They didn’t reach the constitutional question of whether the law was a new bar to
Note in passing: Martin’s answer indicates his webpage on voting requirements was out of date until this suit was filed. He provided an updated version to respond to the page used in the lawsuit. Martin argued the plaintiff had shown no potential for harm if the new ID rule is used (the case will argue that eligible voters have been denied the ballot because of the rule in the past) and said there will be harm to the election process if the law is enjoined “in the middle of an election.” The hearing is set before early voting begins May 1.