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Four Ballot Proposals Rejected in March

by Kristin Higgins - March 19, 2018

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The Arkansas Attorney General's Office rejected four proposed ballot measures this month submitted by the public. 

The proposals sought to legalize casinos, change who is responsible for creating Arkansas' legislative districts, allow the state to be sued and legalize recreational marijuana.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge found problems with the wording of each proposal, and also cautioned two submitters about the number of words in their ballot titles.
A proposal to legalize casinos ran 1,190 words, and a proposal that would change who was responsible for drawing legislative districts was 971 words. Arkansas' Constitution doesn't limit the length of ballot titles, but voters can have problems reading and understanding longer ballot titles as they are limited to five minutes in the voting booth. 
According to Attorney General Opinion No. 2017-016, the longest ballot title ever approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court contained 994 words. (The proposal summarized the substance of the voter-initiated Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act.)
Groups seeking a spot on the November ballot for their constitutional amendments are running out of time to get their petition's wording approved by the Attorney General, who has the responsibility of signing off on the wording of ballot issues before the first voter signature can be collected. June 6 is the deadline for a ballot issue group to advertise the full wording of their ballot issue in a newspaper before the November election. 
Currently, only one group has been approved to collect voter signatures. This is the lowest number of ballot proposals certified by the Attorney General's Office in the last five years. 
More than 84,000 signatures are needed to qualify a constitutional amendment for a spot on the ballot. Signatures are due to the Secretary of State's Office by July 6 with the final ballot to be declared August 23.
Voters in November will decide the fate of two constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature, Issue 1 (SJR8) and Issue 2 (HJR1016).
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The Public Policy Center has published nonpartisan fact sheets on Arkansas' statewide ballot issues since 2004. We welcome your questions at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter