Issue 4 - The Arkansas Citizens' Redistricting Commission Amendment
Struck from the Ballot
Final decision: On Sept. 2, sponsors filed a lawsuit in federal court raising freedom of speech issues and asked the federal judge to include this issue on the ballot. A federal judge on Sept. 15 rejected a request from the sponsor to keep Issue 4 on the ballot.
The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Aug. 27, 2020 that Issue 4 did not qualify for the
ballot because of problems with paperwork certifying that canvassers had passed required
background checks. The signatures collected by those canvassers could not be counted,
the court ruled. Therefore sponsors did not have the required 89,151 voter signatures
to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the ballot. Read the court rulings online.
Know before you vote
On Election Day, you will see only the popular name and title of each proposal. Want to read the rest of it? Here's a link to the complete text of Issue 4.
What's being proposed?
This amendment asks voters to:
- Do away with the existing Board of Apportionment (governor, secretary of state and attorney general) currently responsible for establishing state legislative district boundaries.
- End the practice of state legislators creating boundaries for the four Arkansas U.S. House of Representative districts.
- Create a nine-member Citizens’ Redistricting Commission and the process by which members are selected by a panel of three retired judges to establish state legislative and congressional districts. Commissioners would include:
3 people who self-identify as affiliated with the political party having the largest number of legislators in the General Assembly
3 people who self-identify as affiliated with the political party having the second largest number of legislators in the General Assembly
3 people who self-identify as unaffiliated with major political parties
- Establish who may serve on the commission and the process the panel of judges will use for selecting commissioners.
- Allow the governor and legislative leaders from the two largest political parties in the state legislature to each remove a maximum of two applicants from the semi-final pool of commission candidates.
- Prohibit commissioners from being elected or appointed to a state office or working as a lobbyist during their time as commissioner and for the three years after their term ends.
- Require Citizens’ Redistricting Commission meetings be advertised and open to the public and the commission’s work be considered public records.
- Require the secretary of state to develop and publicize an application form for serving on the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission, provide information and existing maps to commissioners, and establish multiple methods for the public to comment and propose alternate maps.
- Require people who receive money for influencing commission action to publicly disclose this information.
- Establish criteria to guide how the commission draws maps, including federal requirements of equal population in U.S. Congressional districts and no more than a 3% difference in population in state legislative districts; districts that do not favor or disfavor a political party; keeping cities and towns intact as much as possible, and promoting competition within districts.
- Require the commission to conduct public meetings in each U.S. House of Representatives district, publish three alternative maps, provide a written report explaining the basis for proposed congressional and state districts, and certify the final apportionment with the secretary of state.
- Require the final maps be approved by at least six members of the commission, with approval coming from at least two members from each majority party and from the group of commissioners who do not identify with the majority parties.
- Require the General Assembly to budget at least $750,000 for the commission to fulfill its duties, including payment to commissioners for their time and reimbursement for their expenses. The legislature would have the authority to increase the budget by a majority vote.
- Replace existing language in Section 5 of Article 8 regarding the jurisdiction of the Arkansas Supreme Court with language consistent with this proposed amendment, including the power to compel the chief justice, panel of judges, secretary of state, and Citizens’ Redistricting Commission to perform their duties.
This amendment also would repeal Arkansas Code § 7-2-101 through § 7-2-105 about U.S. House of Representatives districts. This would:
- Eliminate the requirement in state law that Arkansas is divided into four U.S. House of Representatives districts.
- Remove language listing specific counties and other geographic locations making up current congressional districts.
How did Issue 4 get on the ballot?
More than 89,151 Arkansas voters signed petitions circulated by Arkansas Voters First to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. This represents 10% of the number of people who voted for governor in the last election, which is the number of signatures required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Whether sponsors have enough valid signatures is up for debate between the sponsor and the Secretary of State and opponents. The sides are in disagreement over whether sponsors met canvassing paperwork requirements, which can affect whether sponsors met the signature threshold for their measure to be on the ballot.
Sponsors filed a lawsuit July 17, 2020 to require this measure be on the ballot for voters to decide. The Arkansas Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision whether votes cast for or against this measure are counted.
Who is supporting or opposing this measure?
Supporters and opponentsthat spend money to campaign are required to register with the Arkansas Ethics Commission as a ballot or legislative question committee. 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.