Ballot Initiatives In Arkansas Could Become More Difficult With Proposed Amendment

Apr 19, 2013

Arkansas voters will get to decide whether to toughen the requirements to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot through the petition process after the state House gave final approval to the measure Friday.

Senate Joint Resolution 16 would require that signatures be 75 percent correct for petitioners to receive additional time to collect the full, required number of signatures.

Representative Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, said the amendment is needed in light of a high number of fake or incorrect names that were turned in on petitions before the last election.

“I think that’s what is important here, that the citizens of Arkansas are who signs the petitions, and it’s not people just going through phone books, or just putting down cartoon characters,” Gillam said.

Opponents of the measure, like Republican Representative Bob Ballinger of Hindsville say it would make it too hard for individuals to get a proposal on the ballot.

“This is one area where people can touch government and can affect government and the only reason for this is to make it harder for them to do that,” Ballinger said.

The proposal has drawn both support and opposition from Democrats and Republicans. The ACLU of Arkansas and the Family Council have both opposed the measure.

It will be part of the legislature’s package of up to three constitutional amendments lawmakers can place on the ballot for voter approval.