On April 16, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas (ACLU) brought a lawsuit in Arkansas state court challenging the validity of Arkansas’s new voter photo ID law under the Arkansas Constitution. At the same time, LDF and the Arkansas NAACP were in communication with the Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin about the significant burdens that the photo ID law had placed on Black voters in the state, and requesting that his office work to ease those burdens. Although LDF met with the Secretary’s office met with LDF and provided us with data showing that over 1,000 people had been disenfranchised by the law in an April primary, but only 33 voter ID cards had been issued since the law went into effect, the Secretary failed to address on concerns.
On May 23, 2014, the trial court held that the photo ID law was unconstitutional because it added an additional voter qualification in violation of the state Constitution. The Defendants appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. On August 11, 2014, LDF filed an amicus brief in the Arkansas Supreme Court in support of the challenge to the voter ID law. The brief describes the significant burdens that the law places on thousands of Arkansans without photo ID, such as requiring poor Black people without cars to drive as far as sixty (60) miles round trip or go on bus trips that can take all day in order to apply for a photo ID or “cure” ballots that were cast without photo ID.
At oral argument on October 2, 2014, the Justices referenced the burdens identified in LDF’s brief. Two weeks later, on October 15, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the photo ID requirement adopting one of the arguments advanced by LDF.