January 17, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Today at 3:00 p.m., the treatment and validity of absentee ballots cast without copies of ID in the Craighead County Special Election will be decided.

No matter the outcome, the fact that these votes are even in question violates voters rights, says the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas (ACLU).    

The Voter ID law, passed in 2013, requires absentee voters to provide copies of ID or other documents proving the voter’s registered address.  It requires voters at the polls to show an Arkansas or federal government issued photo ID.  The law does not provide any remedy for absentee voters who did not send in the newly required copies of identification.  State officials’ (the Attorney General, Arkansas State Board of Elections, and the Secretary of State) legal theories for a solution range from declaring the ballots void to providing a window of opportunity  - until noon Monday - to visit the circuit clerk or election commission to show IDs. 

“This was just an artificial hoop placed between voters and the ballot box that did exactly what we predicted it would do.  Especially when the only real outreach to the public has been this guinea pig treatment of the special elections,”  said ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar.  “It is going to take a lawsuit, a special session, or both to clear up this mess.   We stand ready to represent affected voters, in Craighead County and elsewhere across the state.”     

“Now that the validity of real voters’ votes are in question, the fact absentee voters were given no opportunity to save their votes suddenly is as bad as it looked and looks as bad as it is,” said ACLU of Arkansas Legal Director Holly Dickson.  Officials are now scrambling to craft a solution that was the job of the legislature. The law has trampled the rights of these voters, and there isn’t even a requirement that the voters be notified.  It’s shameful.”            

People who believe their right to vote may be compromised now or an upcoming election or needing additional information can contact the ACLU at or by leaving a message saying Let Me Vote at 501-374-2660.