Arkansas Voter ID Law Struck Down

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Arkansas Voter ID Law Struck Down

Latest ruling on contentious efforts by Republican legislatures to curb voting rights comes just weeks before national elections

In this May 5, 2014 file photo, a voter walks past a "Please Have Photo ID Ready" sign as he enters an early-voting polling place in downtown Little Rock, Ark. In a unanimous ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, found that the state's voter identification law is unconstitutional.Danny Johnston. (Photo: File/AP)

The highest court in Arkansas has struck down a restrictive voter ID law passed by the state's Republican-controlled legislature, calling the measure 'unconstitutional.'

The Associated Press reports:

The high court noted the Arkansas Constitution lists specific requirements to vote: that a person be a citizen of both the U.S. and Arkansas, be at least 18 years old and be lawfully registered. Anything beyond that amounts to a new requirement and is therefore unconstitutional, the court ruled.

"These four qualifications set forth in our state's constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement," the ruling said.

Arkansas is among a handful of states where voter ID requirements have been in limbo. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed new restrictions to take effect in North Carolina but blocked Wisconsin's ID requirement.

"We are thrilled that the Arkansas Supreme Court eradicated this artificial, vote-stealing law," said Holly Dickson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which had sued to strike the law down. "It was an unconstitutional barrier that has already stolen legitimate voting rights and we are thrilled to see Arkansans' voting rights restored."

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Wednesday's ruling could impact political races in Arkansas, where early voting is set to begin Monday. The U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, is one of the most heated in the country, and the GOP views the seat as key in its bid to win control of that chamber.

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court upheld a voter ID law in Texas which critics have said severely and negatively impacts the ability of specific communities of people, including Black and Hispanic voters, students, low-income citizens, and the elderly, to vote.

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