Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
has issued a formal opinion that says an absentee voter
who fails to include the newly required proof of identification
in a mail absentee has no opportunity to correct the omission.
Responding to questions posed by the Pulaski Election Commission,
McDaniel said an absentee ballot couldn't be accepted provisionally without ID and then counted later if the voter provided an ID within a week after the eleciton. Such a "cure" is allowed for in-person voters who fail to produce a photo ID required by the new voter ID law passed by the 2013 legislature at the instigation of the Republican Party.
The issue arose in the special state Senate electio
n in Jonesboro. There, 84 of more than 130 absentee ballots didn't include the required ID. The Election Commission chose to rely on advice from Secretary of State Mark Martin
to accept the 84 provisionally but count only those where voters came in with identification. About five did. The dozens of invalidated votes didn't determine the election, won by a wide margin by a Republican candidate, but could have been decisive in a close election.
Here's McDaniel's opinion
It also addressed a critical question: Does the creation of different statuses for in-person and absentee voters create a equal rights conflict under the U.S. Constitution? McDaniel said no. He said courts in other states have ruled that absentee voting is fundamentally or inherently different from in-person voting and a privilege. The voters are not similarly situated, he opined.