UACES Facebook Deadline to Certify Arkansas Ballot Coming Up But Uncertainty Continues
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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 Arkansas dropped their court challenge on Friday, effectively ending their campaign for a spot on the November ballot.
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 a 2019 state law should 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 the referendum filed 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