Issue 2 of 2022 - Requiring 60% Voter Approval for Constitutional Amendments and Citizen-Proposed
Arkansas voters rejected this issue.
Issue 2 was one of four constitutional amendments on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.
The Public Policy Center has provided neutral information on statewide ballot issues since 2004. Download the full 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide or click on the image to access a printer friendly version of our Issue 2 fact sheet. The information below is from our voter guide.
A Constitutional Amendment to Reform Certain Measures Presented to Voters, to be Known as the "Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Reform Amendment”
An amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, to be known as the "constitutional amendment and ballot initiative reform amendment", concerning the number of votes required for approval of certain measures presented to voters; requiring that initiatives proposed under Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, § 1, 18 and constitutional amendments proposed under Arkansas Constitution, Article 19, § 22, and Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 70, § 2, shall be approved when receiving at least sixty percent (60%) of the votes cast on the proposed initiative or proposed constitutional amendment; and requiring that a measure subject to a referendum shall be repealed if the measure is rejected by a majority of the electors voting upon the matter.
Arkansas senators and representatives voted to place HJR1005, as Issue 2 was known then, on the 2022 General Election Ballot. The Arkansas Constitution grants the legislature the right to include up to three constitutional amendments on the general election ballot.
Constitutional amendments currently require the approval of a majority of voters in a statewide election. Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022.
A FOR vote means you are in favor of changing the Arkansas Constitution to increase the percentage of votes required to pass constitutional amendments and new state laws from a majority of the votes cast on the measure to 60% of the votes cast.
An AGAINST vote means you are not in favor of changing the Arkansas Constitution.
On Election Day, the ballot will show only the popular name and ballot title of this issue.
Every proposal has more text to it that further describes the proposed law. Read the complete text of Issue 2, or HJR1005 as it was previously known, on the legislature's website.
Overview of Issue 2
Arkansas legislators have proposed a constitutional amendment that would increase the percentage of votes required to pass most statewide ballot issues.
Currently, a majority of votes are required for statewide ballot issues to pass and go into effect. This percentage is frequently described as “50% plus one vote” or a simple majority.
Issue 2 proposes amending the three sections of the Arkansas Constitution governing ballot issues to require a “super majority” vote in order for constitutional amendments and initiatives to go into effect. Specifically, Issue 2 proposes:
- Increasing the percent of votes required to pass constitutional amendments proposed by citizen groups from 50% to 60%.
- Increasing the percent of votes required to pass constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature from 50% to 60%.
- Increasing the percent of votes required to pass state laws proposed by citizen groups from 50% to 60%.
Requirements for citizen-sponsored referendums, which ask voters to decide the fate of existing laws, would remain unchanged and be decided by a simple majority of voters.
Changing the Arkansas Constitution requires a vote of the people. The state constitution dates back to 1874 and there are currently 102 amendments to the original document. Arkansas voters rejected several attempts in the last century to pass a newer state constitution, leaving the amendment process as the only way to make changes or updates.
Additionally, the ballot issue process is the only way for citizens to directly propose changes to state law to be decided by a vote of the people rather than relying on legislators to consider and decide on these changes.
There are two routes: a legislature-led process and a citizen-led process.
Legislative process: Lawmakers submit proposals for constitutional amendments when they meet as the General Assembly in odd-numbered years. Committees in the House and Senate review the proposals to determine which ones should be voted on by all legislators.
The legislature can refer up to three constitutional amendments to voters, in addition to a proposal related to their salary. Placing these issues on the ballot requires approval by 50% of the legislature; This equals approval from 18 of the 35 senators and 51 of the 100 representatives.
Citizen initiative process: Arkansans can propose a constitutional amendment, a state law, and a referendum on whether to keep or repeal newly adopted laws from the legislative session.
This citizen-led process involves:
- filing a ballot title with the Secretary of State’s Office
- collecting signatures from voters in at least 15 counties, and
- the Arkansas Election Commission approving the ballot title.
The number of voter signatures required to qualify a proposal for the statewide ballot varies depending on the type of ballot issue.
- Petitions for constitutional amendments must contain voter signatures equaling at least 10% of the number of people who voted for governor in the last election. (In 2022, the number of signatures required for constitutional amendments is 89,151.)
- Petitions for state laws require signatures equaling at least 8% of the number of people who voted for governor.
Only after this criteria is met are citizen-led issues placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
Between 2000 and 2020, Arkansas voters considered 40 proposed constitutional amendments and state laws that had been referred by the legislature and citizen groups. Voters approved 30 of these ballot issues and rejected the remaining 10 proposals.
Of the 30 measures voters passed, 18 received at least 60% voter approval.
This means that 12 of the 30 proposals that Arkansas voters passed in the last 20 years would not have satisfied the proposed 60% voter approval requirement.
Find out how past ballot issues faired individually with voters at www.sos.arkansas.gov/uploads/elections/Initiatives_and_Amendments_1938-2020.pdf.
Every state has a process for ballot issues, but what is allowed and the requirements for passing such measures vary dramatically.
Looking at the country overall, these are the states that require a super majority vote for a ballot measure to pass:
- Florida requires at least 60% voter approval on its ballot measures. The state requires 66.6% voter approval for ballot measures involving new taxes or fees.
- Washington requires casino gaming ballot measures to be approved by 60% of voters compared to 50% for other measures.
- Oregon requires a higher percentage of voters to approve any proposal that would change the ballot measure approval rate itself.
Arkansas is one of 15 states where in addition a legislative amendment, citizens can ask voters to consider constitutional amendments, state laws and referendums.
Of these 14 other states:
- Nine states require a simple majority vote to pass statewide ballot measures.
- One state (Nevada) requires a simple majority vote, but citizen-led constitutional amendments require passage in two separate elections.
- Two states require ballot measures to receive at least 50% voter approval, AND at least a certain percentage of the overall turnout to pass.
- One state (Colorado) requires 55% voter approval on all statewide ballot measures.
View our state-by-state analysis at www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/voter-education/docs/Ballot%20Access%20Requirements%20by%20State%20-%20Sept.%202021.pdf
What Do Supporters and Opponents Say?
The following statements are examples of what supporters and opponents have made public either in media statements, campaign literature, on websites or in interviews with Public Policy Center staff. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not endorse or validate these statements.
- It’s a much-needed safeguard for our initiative and constitutional amendment process.
It is entirely too easy to amend our state constitution. We shouldn’t amend our constitution
in some sort of willy-nilly fashion.
- The state’s lenient rules make it vulnerable to big money and out-of-state interests that would want to highjack our process and push
their own pet projects and hobby horse issues.
- I don’t view this as a particularly ideological measure. It is designed to simply
put some safeguards on our constitutional amendment process.
- That process is fairly easy for big money or out-of-state interests to hijack because
all they have to do is spend a large sum of money in a relatively short window of
time, and temporarily convince people that something is a good idea. And then viola, it’s in the Constitution forever and ever.
- This proposal would create minority rule as 40% of the electorate voting “no” would
deny proposed measures.
- Between 2000-2020, there has been 1 initiated amendment that exceeded 60%. There have been 14 referred amendments that exceeded 60%. There were 3 initiated
acts that exceeded 60%. The effect of Issue 2 on the peoples’ right to direct democracy is much more severe
than that on the general assembly primarily due to the fact that the people have to
include a ballot title that accurately summarizes the proposal while the General Assembly
- Acts by the General Assembly only require 50% approval while initiated acts by the
people would require 60%, making it more difficult for the people to pass an initiated
act than the General Assembly.
- Ballot measures give citizens of our state the power to make laws when politicians fail to do their jobs. Don’t let politicians and special interests change the system that has served Arkansas well for the past 112 years. If they get rid of ballot measures as we know them in Arkansas, it will mean more power for lobbyists, more backroom deals, and less power for voters to decide on the issues that matter most.
Public Policy Center staff summarize Issue 2 on the Arkansas ballot in the video below.
Filings with the Arkansas Ethics Commission
Groups that support or oppose ballot issues are required to register with the Arkansas Ethics Commission as a ballot or legislative question committee once they raise or spend a certain amount of money on their efforts. Visit the Commission's website to view these filings, which include names of people behind a group and how much money has been raised or spent.
Defend AR Constitution
Arkansas Farm Bureau for A Better Land
Protect AR Vote
Protect AR Constitution
Arkansas Public Policy Panel
The Fairness Project