Ballot Issue Groups Collecting Signatures After AG Certifies Proposals
It's been a whirlwind of a month. The Arkansas Attorney General certified four potential
ballot measures for the November ballot in response to a lawsuit. Three of the sponsors
then published their ballot titles in a newspaper by June 6 as required.
Now, sponsors are collecting thousands of voter signatures to overcome the last but
biggest hurdle: actually qualifying for the ballot.
Signatures are due by July 6 to the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office for counting.
The Secretary of State has until Aug. 23 to send the official November ballot to counties
across the state.
What are the three proposals?
Couch will need to collect signatures from at least 67,887 voters to qualify the minimum
wage proposal for the ballot. (This number represents 8 percent of the number of people
who voted for governor in the 2014 election).
Sponsors of the two proposed constitutional amendments will need at least 84,859 voter
signatures for their competing casino proposals. (This represents 10 percent of people
who voted in the governor's race).
Couch also sponsored a fourth proposal
to change how Arkansas legislative boundaries are drawn but said he would wait for
the 2020 ballot. There would be plenty of time to seek a redistricting amendment through
the initiative process by the time the 2020 Census is completed, he said. Couch expected
to resubmit the updated proposal for certification soon.
Supporters of The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment
have been collecting signatures since wording of the measure was approved in October
2016. In a recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, supporters said they had more
than 70,000 signatures.
How did we get here?
Ballot issue groups have been critical of the attorney general, who rejected dozens
of proposed ballot measures since October 2016.
The Supreme Court rejected one lawsuit seeking to compel Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
to certify a measure, but ruled in favor of a second lawsuit involving an act increasing
the state's minimum wage. The proposal mirrored one that voters approved in 2014.
Rutledge certified the act as required and then certified the three additional proposals.
She rejected a fourth proposal due to problems with the wording.
The deadline has passed to propose any new amendments for the November election. Depending
on the signature county by the Secretary of State, voters could end up with six proposals to decide in November, including Issue 1 and Issue 2 referred by the legislature.
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