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The Pulaski County jail prevents proponents of education ballot initiatives from obtaining signatures from prisoners



Pulaski County, Arkansas – Due to controversy surrounding a group’s attempts to sneak ballot measures past jail walls in Pulaski County, the jail has refused to allow canvassers inside during the last week of signature collection.

Although there is some disagreement regarding the legality of this, the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility cites a state statute as justification for its refusal to permit this.

While Bill Kopsky of the organization For AR Kids noted that this would not be the first time that a group entered a jail to register voters, he also mentioned that his group had previously had registered inmates sign ballot proposals.

According to Kopsky, the group aimed to accomplish the same with their present ballot initiative, which centers on education in Arkansas. While state law prohibits organizers from using public resources for ballot issues, it does not prevent anyone from registering voters in county jails.

The ballot initiative For AR Kids seeks to define the minimum academic standards for Arkansas schools, provide free access to Pre-K for children ages 3 and 4, and mandate uniform guidelines and criteria for all schools receiving state funding.

Nic Horton of Opportunity Arkansas stated that everything appeared dubious at best after learning that For AR Kids sought to gather signatures from prisoners. He went on to say that no taxpayer-funded resource should be biased in favor of one position over another.

“I think this is a very serious thing. When you have taxpayer-funded resources that should be a neutral forum, whatever the forum is, it should be neutral,” Horton said. “It shouldn’t be for it, shouldn’t be against, because you have taxpayers on both sides. Their money and the resources they provide shouldn’t be going into something that’s political like this.”

Horton stated that he might not have given it much thought if the group had intended to go out and register voters after the July 5 petition deadline, but Opportunity Arkansas’s initial concerns were raised by the timing of their proposal.

Had they entered the cells, Kopsky claimed his group would have received “maybe a few dozen” signatures.

“The allegation coming in from what’s his name (Horton) was inane because he’s arguing we’re somehow trying to game the system and get some magic massive number of signatures and that’s just not the case,” Kopsky said.

These ballot groups have until this Friday to collect all of the signatures necessary.





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