Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment, Issue 2 (2014)

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Issue 2
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Type:Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment
Constitution:Arkansas Constitution
Referred by:Arkansas State Legislature
Topic:Direct democracy measures
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
Seal of Arkansas.svg.png
November 4
Issue 1 Approveda
Issue 2 Approveda
Issue 3 Approveda
Issue 4 Defeatedd
Issue 5 Approveda
PollsFull text
The Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment, Issue 2 was on the November 4, 2014 general election ballot in Arkansas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The amendment requires ballot issue groups to collect at least 75 percent of the valid signatures required in order to receive additional time to gather extra signatures once the petition has been turned in to the Secretary of State. To be placed on the ballot, proposed constitutional amendments need at least 78,133 valid signatures, and proposed initiated measures require at least 62,507.[1] The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Bill Sample (R-14) in the Arkansas State Legislature, where it was known as Senate Joint Resolution 16.[2]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Arkansas Issue 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 425,709 53.31%
No372,78446.69%

Election results via: Arkansas Secretary of State

Background

See also: Signature verification for initiatives in Arkansas

Under previous Arkansas laws, there had been no threshold requirement to receive additional time to gather more signatures. Within 30 days of receiving petition signatures, the Arkansas Secretary of State verified each signature up to 110 percent of the required number. Prior to counting, the Secretary removed any individual petitions that were formally deficient. If any individual petition appears, beyond a reasonable doubt, to contain 20 percent or more invalid signatures, initiative sponsors were then responsible for proving which of the signatures are valid. If the petition failed to meet the signature requirement, petitioners had 30 days to collect additional signatures or demonstrate that rejected signatures were valid.[3]

Text of measure

See also: Arkansas Senate Joint Resolution 16 (2013)

Ballot title

The official ballot title read as follows:[4]

ISSUE NO. 2

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REFERRED TO THE PEOPLE BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Popular Name

AN AMENDMENT ALLOWING MORE TIME TO GATHER SIGNATURES ON A STATE-WIDE INITIATIVE OR REFERENDUM PETITION ONLY IF THE PETITION AS ORIGINALLY FILED CONTAINED AT LEAST 75% OF THE VALID SIGNATURES REQUIRED.

Ballot Title

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 5, SECTION 1, OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM; AND PROVIDING CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CORRECTION OR AMENDMENT OF INSUFFICIENT STATE-WIDE PETITIONS.

FOR ISSUE NO. 2

AGAINST ISSUE NO. 2

Constitutional changes

The approval of Issue 2 amended Section 1 of Article 5 of the Arkansas Constitution. The amended section reads as follows with the underlined text being added and the struck through text being removed:[5]

(a)(1) If the Secretary of State, county clerk or city clerk, as the case may be, shall decide any petition to be insufficient, he or she shall without delay notify the sponsers sponsors of such petition, and permit at least thirty (30) days from the date of such notification, in the instance of a state-wide petition, or ten (10) days in the instance of a municipal or county petition, for correction or amendment.

(2) For a state-wide petition, correction or amendment of an insufficient petition shall be permitted only if the petition contains valid signatures of legal voters equal to:

(A) At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the number of state-wide signatures of legal voters required; and
(B) At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the required number of signatures of legal voters from each of at least fifteen (15) counties of the state.

(b) In the event of legal proceedings to prevent giving legal effect to any petition upon any grounds, the burden of proof shall be upon the person or persons attacking the validity of the petition.[6]


Support

Supporters

Sen. Sample (R-14) sponsored the bill in the legislature.[2]

Arguments

  • Supporters said that this measure was necessary to prevent ballot measure campaigns from submitting false signatures so as to buy time in their attempt to bring their issue before voters. Last year, a high number of invalid signatures were submitted by supporters of casino and severance tax proposals.[1]
  • According to a report on Issue 2 published by The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, arguments in support of Issue 2 included:[7]
What do supporters say?
  • The proposed amendment would set the bar high enough to avoid worrying about fraud and deception.
  • Ballot issue groups have the ability to check their signatures for errors against the state’s list of registered voters before submitting petitions to the Secretary of State.
  • The change is needed to prevent campaigns from knowingly submitting false signatures just to buy time.[6]

—The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension

SJR 16 "Yes" votes

The following members of the Arkansas Legislature voted in favor of putting SJR 16 on the ballot:[8][9]

Note: A yes vote on SJR 16 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Issue 2.

House

Senate

Opposition

Opponents

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas[1]
  • Arkansas AFL-CIO[1]
  • Family Council[1]

Arguments

  • The measure was opposed by various groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, the Arkansas AFL-CIO and the Family Council. These groups believed that, if the measure passed, it would be difficult for citizens to bring issues before voters. Another opponent of the measure, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-97) said, "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."[1]
  • According to a report on Issue 2 published by The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, arguments in opposition to Issue 2 included:[7]
What do opponents say?
  • The proposed amendment does nothing to address fraud but severely hampers the ability of the people to place an initiated measure on the ballot.
  • If Issue 2 had been in effect, ballot initiatives regarding medical marijuana, minimum wage and alcohol would not have been on the ballot because their initial validity rates were below 75 percent.
  • 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.[6]

—The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension

SJR 16 "No" votes

The following members of the Arkansas Legislature voted against putting SJR 16 on the ballot:[8][9]

Note: A no vote on SJR 16 meant that a legislator did not want to refer the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators disapproved of the stipulations laid out in Issue 2.

House

Senate

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing ballot measures in Arkansas & Amending the Arkansas Constitution

A prior version of SJR 16 originally set the signature threshold at 90 percent; however, this proposal was rejected by the Senate.[10] The subsequent version of this measure was also initially rejected by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments; however, it was later approved.[11] Section 22, Article 19, of the Arkansas Constitution says that a majority vote is required in both houses of the Arkansas Legislature in order to send a measure to the ballot.

The Senate voted 29 to 4 to approve the amendment on April 18, 2013.[12] The House passed the measure on to the ballot with a vote of 65 to 17 on April 19, 2013.[1]

Senate vote

April 18, 2013 Senate vote

Arkansas SJR 16 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 29 87.88%
No412.12%

House vote

April 19, 2013 House vote

Arkansas SJR 16 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 65 79.27%
No1720.73%

Ballot language legal challenges

All three of the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments for the 2014 ballot faced difficulties due to an apparent mistake made by Senate Bill 821 in the 2013 regular session. The bill, which became Act 1413, was controversial on its own grounds, but directly impacted these measures by removing the requirement that the attorney general write popular names for the amendments put forward by the legislature.[13] While initially appearing to be a minor procedural issue, Arkansas law requires a ballot measure to have a popular title to appear on the ballot. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) had endorsed Act 1413 in 2013 without realizing this complication. The matter was brought to attention by the secretary of state's request of opinions on the matter.[14]

On January 23, 2014, the secretary of state's office announced that they would use language provided by the attorney general's office and from the measures themselves to prepare the ballot language. The attorney general had claimed that the secretary of state had the authority to do so, but Martha Adcock, general counsel for the secretary of state's office, expressed some doubt over the process. She said,

Anybody can sue. This is no guarantee by us saying we're going to provide and use the attorney generals' popular name that somebody won't sue and say there's no authority for doing so.[6]

—Martha Adcock, general council to Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, [15]

It appeared that some groups were poised to try and use this legal gray area to challenge the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. A group opposed to the term limits amendment and another that had dropped its initiated ballot measure for ethics reforms due to the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the same issue both expressed the possibility of using a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the measures due to the confusion caused by Act 1413.[15]

Related measures

See also

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 The Republic, "Arkansas lawmakers send proposed amendments on ethics and petition rules to voters," April 19, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 University of Arkansas Public Policy Center, "News & Notes: Arkansas Ballot Issues," April 19, 2013
  3. Arkansas Secretary of State, "2010 Initiatives and Referenda: Facts and Information for the 2010 General Election"
  4. Washington County, Arkansas, "Official Ballot, 2014 General Election," accessed October 12, 2014
  5. Arkansas Legislature, "SJR 16, 2013 Regular Session," accessed June 19, 2014 (timed out)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Public Policy Center of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, "AN AMENDMENT ALLOWING MORE TIME TO GATHER SIGNATURES ON A STATE-WIDE INITIATIVE OR REFERENDUM PETITION ONLY IF THE PETITION AS ORIGINALLY FILED CONTAINED AT LEAST 75 PERCENT OF THE VALID SIGNATURES REQUIRED," accessed October 14, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 OpenStates.org, "House Vote on SJR 16 (Apr 19, 2013)," accessed October 12, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 OpenStates.org, "Senate Vote on SJR 16 (Apr 18, 2013)," accessed October 13, 2014
  10. San Francisco Chronicle, "Ark. Senate rejects change for ballot issues," April 12, 2013
  11. Times Record, "Arkansas Legislature: Two Proposed Constitutional Amendments Clear Senate," April 18,2013
  12. OpenStates.org, "SJR 16 Arkansas Senate Joint Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to Article 5, Section 1, of the Arkansas Constitution Concerning Initiative & Referendum," accessed on April 23, 2013
  13. Arkansas Secretary of State, "Act 1413 of the 2013 Regular Session," accessed June 19, 2014
  14. Arkansas Legislative Digest Nightwriter Blog, "Oops — the three proposed constitutional amendments referred by the 2013 legislature are now in limbo," accessed June 19, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 Arkansas Business, "Secretary of State Approves Language for 3 Arkansas Ballot Measures," January 23, 2014