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ACLU of Arkansas Sues Over Voter I.D. Law

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to overturn the state's voter I.D. law as violating the state constitution.

Little Rock -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to overturn the state's voter I.D. law as violating the state constitution.

The legislature passed Act 595, over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, in 2013, requiring a photo I.D.

The suit cites the Arkansas constitution, which says:

Elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.

To vote, an Arkansas citizen must now be in possession of a I.D. card issued by the federal government, the state or an accredited postsecondary school in Arkansas.

Plaintiffs in the suit are Freedom Kohls, Toylanda Smith and Joe Flakes, who do not possess photo I.D.s, and Barry Haas, who has one but declined to show it at the polls at an election this year and was required to cast a provisional ballot, which was not counted in the election results. Defendants are Secretary of State Mark Martin and the members of the state Board of Election Commissioners.

Kohls is a 34-year-old Hurricane Katrina refugee who lost all her possessions, including her ID, in the storm. Smith has had trouble navigating the system to get a photo I.D., which is required to get a birth certificate. Flakes is 78 and was never issued a birth certificate because he was delivered by a midwife who did not properly record his birth; he'd have to go to court to get a birth certificate.

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