Kristin Higgins Public Policy Center Phone: 501-671-2160 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 2301 S. University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204
Deadline to Certify Arkansas Ballot Coming Up But Uncertainty Continues
by Kristin Higgins - August 12, 2020
Arkansas' official statewide ballot will be certified and sent to county clerks by
Aug. 20 but that process won't resolve the uncertainty over which ballot measures
will remain when voters finally cast their votes this fall.
Uncertainty comes on two fronts:
Secretary of State John Thurston said ballot issue groups did not use the correct
wording when they submitted background checks for the paid canvassers who collected
the required voter signatures to put their issues on the ballot. Thurston said this
error invalidated thousands of the signatures they submitted, putting the campaigns
below the 89,151 voter signatures required for constitutional amendments. His decision
followed the opinion filed by a special judge appointed to review a challenge over
a separate proposed referendum.
There are now court challenges over both of these decisions that may not be resolved
by Aug. 20 when Thurston sends the official ballot to county clerks. The August deadline
provides clerks time to order paper ballots and program electronic voting machines
before the first absentee ballots start going out Sept. 18.
There is a potential for six statewide ballot measures total this election cycle.
Supporters of a proposed amendment to expand casino gaming in Arkansasdroppedtheir court challenge on Friday, effectively ending their campaign for a spot on the
Court challenges also continue over the legislature's referred Issue 2 and Issue 3,
as well as for a proposed referendum on Act 529. The referendum has had multiple court
challenges since it was filed last year and its position on the ballot remains uncertain
despite making it past the Secretary of State and Board of Election Commissioners.
In the Courts: Ballot Issue Lawsuit Updates
Issue 2 & Issue 3- A lawsuit filed June 29 seeks to remove Issue 2 and Issue 3 from the November ballot.
The complaint says the ballot titles for both measures do not summarize all the changes
included for voters to be able to make a decision. The lawsuit, filed by Tom Steele,
also says Issue 3 includes multiple unrelated changes to the constitution that in
the past have resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court striking measures from the ballot.
Issue 2 involves term limits for state legislators. Issue 3 involves the process ballot
issue groups and legislators follow to refer proposed amendments and state laws to
voters.Follow the case online
Issue 3- No court date has been set yet for a May lawsuit filed over Issue 3 on the November
ballot. Nor has the lawsuit filed with the Arkansas Supreme Court been dismissed,
as several attorneys have said they expect to happen. The complaint filed by Briana
Boling against the 92nd General Assembly says the ballot title is vague and doesn't
tell voters what the amendment would do.Follow the case online
Act 579 Referendum- A special judge appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court recently said voter signatures
collected for this referendum on a2019 state lawshould not be counted. The judge said paperwork submitted along with the signatures
said criminal background checks for paid canvassers were acquired rather than the
canvassers had passed the checks. The final decision is up to the Arkansas Supreme
Court. Opponents of thereferendumfiled the lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court in February.Follow the case online
CV-20-454 - BONNIE MILLER V JOHN THURSTON SOS- This lawsuit filed by sponsors of the ranked choice voting amendment and redistricting
amendment challenges the Secretary of State's decision regarding their canvasser background
checks for both proposals and now the Board of Election Commission's rejection of
the ranked choice amendment title. A special judge who only reviewed the signatures
submitted for both measures said Monday the Secretary of State should count 586 signatures
it previously rejected for the ranked choice voting proposal. If the Supreme Court
accepts "acquired" in place of "passed," the special judge says both proposals would
have enough voter signatures to move forward.Follow the case online