UACES Facebook Facts about Arkansas Ballot Issue 5 | 2020 Arkansas Ballot Issues
skip to main content

Issue 5 -Single Ballot Primary With Top Four Candidates Advancing To General Election For Ranked Choice Voting and Instant Runoff


Struck from 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 5 on the ballot.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Aug. 27, 2020 that Issue 5 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.


Download Issue 5 Fact Sheet


Know before you vote

On Election Day, you will see only the popular name and title of each proposal. Want to see the rest? Here's a link to the complete text of Issue 5

What's being proposed?

This amendment asks voters to: 

  • Adopt a top-four open primary system to elect federal congressional offices, the general assembly, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney general and commissioner of state lands.
  • Require all candidates for these offices to be listed on a single ballot with a space for write-in candidates in primary elections.
  • Allow the four candidates who receive the most votes for a position in the primary election be placed on the general election ballot.
  • Give voters the choice to rank candidates in order of their preference in general elections when more than two candidates are running for the same office,
  • Eliminate a run-off election at a later date by establishing that the general election winner be determined by voter rankings rather than the current practice of holding a run-off election at a later date if no candidate gets a majority of the votes.
    • The candidate with the majority of first-choice votes would be declared the winner.
    • If no candidate has a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated. For ballots in which the eliminated candidate was ranked first, the voters’ second choice would receive their vote.
    • The candidate with the majority of first-choice votes after this process would be declared the winner.
    • If no candidate has a majority at this point, this process would be repeated until a candidate receives a majority of votes.

 If passed, the proposed amendment would also:

  • Allow voters to select any of the candidates for these offices regardless of political-party affiliation.
  • Allow candidates affected by this amendment to identify their political party affiliation on the primary and general election ballots.
  • Allow political parties to indicate their preferred candidate on primary and general election ballots for the positions affected by this amendment.
  • Require legislators to pass laws necessary to put the new election system into place.

How did Issue 5 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.

Follow the lawsuit online.

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. 

Supporter Opponent

Arkansas Voters First

Ethics Commission Filing


Arkansans For Transparency

Ethics Commission Filing


Open Primaries Arkansas

Ethics Commission Filing