Arkansas attorney general says secretary of state's office to defend voter ID law in hearing



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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Wednesday that the secretary of state's office will defend Arkansas' voter ID law when a lawsuit over its constitutionality goes before the state Supreme Court next week.

McDaniel, a Democrat, said he agreed to yield to Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin's office the state's argument time when justices hold a hearing on the law Oct. 2. The state has appealed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox's May ruling that the law, which took effect in January, violates Arkansas' constitution. Fox stayed his ruling, meaning the law is still in effect.

McDaniel's office representing the state Board of Election Commissioners, which is a defendant in the case.

"I have made a commitment to uphold my constitutional obligation to defend the law, and I will continue to do so as counsel to the Board," McDaniel said in a statement released by his office. "However, Secretary Martin's attorneys have asked to argue the appeal, and I have no objection to them taking the appellant's argument time."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center sued the state over the law on behalf of four voters they said would be disenfranchised by the requirement to show phot ID at the polls.

The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. McDaniel said his office consulted with Republican state Sen. Bryan King, the sponsor of the law, and said he supported the arrangement.

Justices are considering the case shortly before the first ballots will be cast for the Nov. 4 election. Early voting begins Oct. 20.

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