LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas lawmakers approved a measure Monday requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, sending to the governor’s desk a requirement that was struck down as unconstitutional more than two years ago.
The House, which had already approved a previous version of the legislation, signed off on changes added by the Senate that allow voters without identification to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement. There was no debate on the House floor about the changes added by the Senate.
The Arkansas Legislature enacted a similar voter ID law in 2013, but the measure was struck by the state Supreme Court the following year. The bill was aimed at addressing some justices’ argument that the restriction needed two-thirds legislative approval.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which successfully challenged the 2013 law, opposes the measure and says it will closely monitor what happens after the requirement is put in place. If signed into law, the measure will take effect 90 days after the Legislature formally adjourns, which is expected to happen in May.
ACLU of Arkansas Legal Director Holly Dickson said the organization would be “watching to see the effect and to see if it disenfranchises voters.”
The legislation is one of two efforts by lawmakers to revive the voter ID requirement. Earlier this month, they voted to put a proposed constitutional amendment imposing the requirement on next year’s ballot.
Four of the justices who struck down the 2013 law are no longer on the court, and one of the new justices is a former Republican state legislator. The three justices who said the 2013 law didn’t get the two-thirds vote needed to change voter registration requirements remain on the court.
The justices no longer on the court weren’t voted out of office because of the ruling. Three retired and the fourth was an interim justice appointed to the court whose term expired at the end of 2014.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he generally supports voter ID, but a spokesman said he was reviewing the legislation approved Monday and had not decided whether he would sign it into law.