The AP reports that Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox today ruled that the Republican Party of Arkansas will be able to help defend the state in a lawsuit over how to deal with absentee ballots under the state’s Voter ID law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year almost completely on partisan lines, overriding Gov. Mike Beebe‘s veto.
Fox granted the GOP’s request to assist in defending the state Board of Election Commissioners, which created a rule allowing absentee voters more time to show proof of ID, a “cure” not specified in the law. The Pulaski County Election Commission filed suit last month, arguing that the state board overstepped its authority when it followed the guidance of Secretary of State Mark Martin, a Republican, and adopted a rule that absentee votes without ID should be treated as provisional ballots, with the voter having until the Monday after the election to present ID. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, previously issued an opinion stating that an absentee voter who fails to include the newly required proof of identification by mail has no opportunity to correct the omission. State Republican Party chair Doyle Webb argued that the previous opinion would compromise McDaniel’s ability to defend the state board, and that McDaniel was biased against Voter ID laws.
Though Fox will allow the GOP to assist over the objections of the Pulaski County Election Commission, Fox rejected the argument that McDaniel could not adequately defend the state board.