Issue 2 and Issue 3 Ballot Titles Challenged in New Lawsuit
Ballot titles for two constitutional amendments proposed by the Arkansas legislature were challenged in court this week by opponents who hope the measures are struck from the November 2020 ballot.
The lawsuit is the second one filed challenging Issue 3, a proposal to change the process for citizen-initiated ballot measures and legislative amendments being placed on the general election ballot. An earlier lawsuit filed in May in the Arkansas Supreme Court against the General Assembly said the ballot title was vague.
The new lawsuit, filed by Tom Steele on June 29, follows the same lines. His lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Clerk against the Secretary of State. Steele's suit says Issue 3's ballot title does not summarize all the changes included so that voters can make an informed decision.
"The ballot title of HJR1008 and SJR15 contain no essential facts and nor an impartial summary of the amendment. The ballot title contains almost no information upon which a voter could make a determination as to the merits of the proposal," the lawsuit states.
SJR15 is expected to be Issue 2 on the November ballot when the Secretary of State certifies the final ballot on Aug. 20. Issue 2 would remove life-time term limits for state legislators and allow people to serve in office again after a four-year break.
HJR1008 is expected to be Issue 3. The proposed amendment would make a number of changes to the citizen initiative process, including increasing the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected to put a proposal on the ballot.
Arkansas is one of 15 states where citizens have the right to propose constitutional amendments and new state laws for voters to decide. The proposal would set an earlier deadline to submit signatures and a deadline to challenge proposals in court. Issue 3 would also increase the number of votes required in the General Assembly for legislators to refer ballot measures to the ballot.
Steele's lawsuit also says too many unrelated constitutional changes are included in Issue 3, a problem that caused a contentious proposal involving medical liability lawsuit caps to be struck from the 2018 ballot.
No court date has been set in either lawsuit. A lawsuit filed over a potential November referendum remains in court as well.