Dozens of ballots tossed because of voter ID law
LITTLE ROCK — Two dozen ballots weren't counted in Arkansas' most populous county after voters who didn't show identification at the polls in last week's primary failed to return by a Tuesday deadline to present ID under a new state law, election officials said.
Officials in several counties reported only a handful of voters who returned to the polls by the deadline under Arkansas' voter ID law, which was enforced for the first time statewide in the primary. The secretary of state's office and the state Board of Election Commissioners said they weren't tracking the number of ballots that were tossed out because of the law.
Under the law, approved last year, voters who don't show photo ID at the polls can cast a provisional ballot that wouldn't be counted unless they returned by noon Tuesday following the primary election. In Pulaski County, only one of the 25 people who didn't show ID at the polls returned by Tuesday's deadline, Election Director Bryan Poe said.
Several other counties said they had far fewer ballots tossed. Sebastian County officials said the six voters who didn't show ID at the polls failed to show up by Tuesday's deadline. The one voter who didn't show ID in Saline County returned Tuesday morning. In Garland County, three voters who cast provisional ballots returned with their IDs, Election Commission Chairwoman Ginna Watson said.
"We really did not have a problem with voter ID," Watson said. "In Garland County we have always asked for identification and 99.9 percent of our people come in with ID in hand ready to give it to you before you even ask."
The Republican-led Legislature approved the voter ID law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox earlier this month found the voter ID law unconstitutional, but said he wouldn't block its enforcement during the primary. In his written order released Friday, Fox kept the stay on his decision but left open the possibility he'd reconsider before the June 10 primary. The state is appealing Fox's ruling.
Fox had struck down the law earlier in a separate case, but the state Supreme Court tossed out that ruling because it was in a case that focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the law — not its constitutionality.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which sued over the law, has asked all 75 counties for details on the number of provisional ballots cast because of the voter ID law and how many were counted, Legal Director Holly Dickson said.
"I suspect the fact we've had voters disenfranchised under the law would be good evidence for the court to consider," Dickson said.