Arkansas Supreme Court Reinstates Four Voter Suppression Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four Arkansas voter suppression laws will go into effect after the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier today. The laws establish signature matching guidance, shorten the absentee ballot return period, create a strict linewarming ban and create strict photo ID procedures for voting. 

Arkansas ranks last for voter turnout, with the rate for Black voters significantly lower than the overall state average — a status quo that is indicative of the state’s history of discrimination and voter suppression tactics. Despite these staggering statistics, the Republican controlled Legislature enacted four voter suppression laws in 2021 that target virtually every part of the voting process. 

  • Act 736 establishes a new signature match requirement for mail-in ballots;
  • Act 973 shortens the absentee ballot return period; 
  • Act 249 requires voters who lack proper ID when casting their ballots to bring a form of identification to the county clerk’s office within six days and 
  • Act 728 bans anyone except voters from coming within 100 feet of a polling place, including volunteers who are distributing food and water to voters in long lines. 

Today, the Arkansas Supreme Court gave these laws the green light by holding that the laws do not violate the state constitution. 

In 2021, the League of Women Voters of Arkansas and Arkansas United challenged the four new voter suppression laws. After going to trial in 2022, the judge ruled that all four laws violate the Arkansas Constitution and would be permanently blocked. However, the state appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court’s decision today. 

Despite the laws having drastic impacts on how voters can cast their ballots and if their ballots are counted, the court concluded that “it is clear the fundamental right to vote is not at stake here.” The opinion, written by a judge appointed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), holds that although there is a fundamental right to vote, “the right to vote in a particular manner is not guaranteed.” 

Read the opinion here. 

Learn more about the case here.