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A bill in Arkansas would demand more signatures for initiatives on the ballot



Little Rock, Arkansas – Another bill that is being discussed would make it more challenging to place initiatives on the ballot.

If passed, Arkansans would have to collect signatures from 50 of the state’s counties.

The law, according to representative Kendon Underwood, will give more Arkansans a voice.

“Special interest groups can come to our state and they can try and change our laws, change our constitution by just betting signatures from more populated counties which are typically larger counties but by doing that they can ignore the rest of the state, the more rural counties,” said Underwood.

On the other side, Misty Orpin of Common Ground Arkansas claimed that this would diminish the current voice of Arkansans.

“The more counties that you have to go to the harder it is for everyday Arkansans to get things on the ballot because you have to get so much more money to do that,” said Orpin.

The constitution currently only requires at least 15 counties’ worth of signatures, but the bill would require 50.

“We want more buy-in, we want water spread support across the state,” stated Underwood.

“When it’s on the ballot every single county gets to decide whether or not that constitutional amendment or law change is approved,” said Orpin.

Also, the law would increase the threshold for collecting signatures in each county from half of the electorate to three-fourths.

Orpin is concerned that will be unconstitutional in Arkansas.

“Only the voters of Arkansas have the power to change the constitution. We have the authority to do that the legislature does not,” said Orpin.

Nonetheless, Underwood asserted that raising the number of counties and required signatures—both of which are constitutional provisions—is not illegal.

“There’s an opportunity for the legislature to raise that but can’t go below that floor,” said Underwood.

The bill will be on the Senate’s Monday agenda.

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