Aug. 23 is the state deadline for counties to receive wording for the November General
Election ballot. County election commissions are in a rush to program electronic voting
machines or order copies of paper ballots, depending on what type of voting equipment
they use. Like in past years, the slate of ballot issues will be included even though signature
counting may not be over in Little Rock.
Supporters with Driving Arkansas Forward and the Arkansas Jobs Coalition turned in
more than 43,000 additional voter signatures Tuesday in an attempt to qualify the
casino issue for the ballot. They received additional time to collect more signatures
after their initial submission fell short of the required 84,859 signatures.
This time last month, three ballot issue campaigns turned in hundreds of thousands
of voter signatures for employees at the Secretary of State's Office to comb through
and decide whether they were valid.
The Arkansas Term Limits Amendment qualified first and will be Issue 3
Next up, An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage. Because this is a proposed
state law, it will appear after the constitutional amendments. The proposal will be Issue 5
Casinos and Pope County
That leaves the Issue 4 slot for casinos.
"I think they can get it done pretty quick," attorney Alex Gray said about the state
counting signatures turned in today for the casino proposal.
They're confident they'll make the ballot as Issue 4. Commercials are already airing
on television advertising the proposed constitutional amendment as Issue 4.
The proposed amendment seeks to legalize casino gaming at Oaklawn and Southland race
parks, and at one location in Jefferson County and Pope County.
Pope County's clerk has also been counting signatures for a local ballot issue related
to the casino amendment.
Citizens For A Better Pope County are seeking to prohibit the county judge and quorum
court from issuing a letter of support for a casino applicant without approval from
voters in a separate election. They turned in enough voter signatures to qualify their
local measure for the same ballot.
The Pope County Quorum Court and the Russellville City Council also passed resolutions
asking their top local government official not to sign a letter of support if the
casino amendment fails in their county. (The proposed amendment would require casino applicants to submit letters of support
from their county judge or quorum court if the casino were to locate within the county,
or from the mayor if it were to locate within the city.)
No similar efforts are taking place in Jefferson County.
will be back in court
this month. A hearing on the proposed amendment from the legislature is set for Aug.
The proposed amendment would limit certain attorney fees and lawsuit damages, and
give state legislators more authority over making or changing court rules.
Legislators have the ability to refer up to three constitutional amendments to voters. They referred two proposals for this election cycle:
- Issue 1 - An Amendment Concerning Civil Lawsuits and the Powers of the General Assembly and
Supreme Court to Adopt Court Rules
- Issue 2 - A Constitutional Amendment Adding as a Qualification to Vote that a Voter Present
Certain Valid Photographic Identification When Casting a Ballot In Person or Casting
an Absentee Ballot
The lawsuit says Issue 1 contains too many unrelated issues for a single ballot measure
and should be removed from the ballot. The proposal should actually be four separate
measures, the lawsuit states. A judge denied a motion to immediately strike the issue and will hear arguments next
week in the case Marion Humphrey v. Mark Martin.
Issue 1 probably won't be the only ballot issue challenged in court. Randy Zook with
the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce said he anticipates challenging the term limits
and minimum wage proposals.
"We are scrutinizing the signature process for both proposals," he said. "And considering
Zook, who is leading opposition groups Arkansans for Common-Sense Term Limits and
Arkansans for a Strong Economy, said any court challenges would take place after Labor
Day when the Arkansas Supreme Court returns to session.