Laws governing local ballot measures in Arkansas
- Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
- How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
- An overview of laws governing local recall elections.
Types of local government
Arkansas' local governments fall into the following categories:
- Counties: there are 75 counties in Arkansas.
- Municipalities: there are 501 municipalities in Arkansas. They are generally classified by increasing population as "incorporated towns," "cities of the second class," and "cities of the first class." In certain circumstances, cities may raise their classification by one level through a referendum vote (in the case of towns) or a local ordinance (in the case of second class cities). State statutes provide for municipal charters, but no cities have yet adopted one.
- In addition, there are 727 special districts and 239 independent school districts.
In Arkansas, school bond and tax elections are held under two circumstances: to exceed the debt limit provided in the Arkansas Constitution or, when there is a statewide referendum to increase or decrease the Arkansas 25 mill debt limit.
Local recall rules
The laws that govern the conduct of political recalls in Arkansas are Ark. Code §14-47-112, 14-48-114, 14-61-119 and 14-92-209. Under these statutes, the following elected officials are subject to recall:
- Members of board of directors
- Commissioners of suburban improvement districts
- For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Arkansas
Initiative process availability
| Ballot Law Portal|
|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
All of Arkansas' 75 counties have an initiative initiative process for ordinances.
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
The Arkansas Constitution establishes local initiative for general law municipalities and counties. The details of the initiative process are partially laid out in the constitution. For counties, the remaining details are established by state statutes. Municipalities, however, are free to establish their own process consistent with the process outlined in the constitution.
The Arkansas Code establishes an initiative process for counties consistent with the state constitution.
In addition, the Arkansas Code contains a few provisions that also apply to local initiative, such as a sample petition form (§ 7-9-104, 106) and penalties for signature falsification or failure of an election official to perform their duties. (§ 7-9-103, 102)
See law: Arkansas Code, Title 7, Chap. 9
Initiative process features
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
General law jurisdictions
Each city may establish its own procedures consistent with the general provisions of the state constitution.
At present there are no charter cities in Arkansas. As such, it is unclear how or whether the constitutional mandate for local ordinance initiative would apply to charter cities. Nevertheless, if any cities were to adopt a charter, they would be able to initiate charter amendments consistent with the following provisions:
Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Arkansas|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|Little Rock||195,314||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Fayetteville||75,102||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Fort Smith||87,152||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Springdale||71,397||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Jonesboro||68,547||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|North Little Rock||62,886||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Conway||60,470||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Rogers||57,539||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Pine Bluff||48,339||General Law||November 5, 2013|
|Bentonville||36,295||General Law||November 5, 2013|
The top 10 most populated cities in Arkansas are general law cities which have initiative processes subject to the constitutional requirements detailed above. Most of the city codes do not contain additional initiative provisions. The few that have added clarifying local laws are provided below.
- Ballotpedia Research Document, Local Initiative in Arkansas
- Arkansas Municipal League
- Arkansas Municipal League, Guidebook for Municipal Officials of Mayor/Council Cities, Revised May 2007
- ↑ Arkansas Municipal League, "Guidebook for Municipal Officials of Mayor/Council Cities," Revised May 2007
- ↑ The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 1
- ↑ Arkansas Code, § 14-42-304
- ↑ US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Arkansas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011