Lawsuit in Arkansas Seeks Order Allowing Safe Signature Collection During Pandemic

April 23, 2020 by Dan McCue

A federal lawsuit filed in Arkansas on Wednesday claims the state’s election laws make it virtually impossible to collect the requisite signatures for placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

At issue in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, is whether voters will have a chance to vote in November on the question of forming an independent citizens redistricting commission.

Proponents for removing the power to draw congressional and state legislative district lines from the state legislature claim Arkansas is the eighth worst gerrymandered state in the entire country.

They also contend they have no time to spare, given that the 2020 Census, on which the next district lines will be based, is already underway.

“We have a right to petition our government to amend our constitution. We don’t have the luxury of waiting until next year,” said Bonnie Miller, director of the plaintiff Arkansas Voters First and president of the League of Women Voters of Washington County. 

“If we are denied access to the ballot this year, Arkansas could be stuck with unfair and unrepresentative districts for another ten years,” Miller said.

The problem is, for a constitutional amendment to be allowed onto the ballot in Arkansas, canvassers for a measure need to collect the signatures of over 89,000 registered voters in person, and then appear before a notary public to attest they witnessed the voter sign the petition.

Arkansas Voters First, an independent non-profit organization advocating for a non-partisan redistricting commission in the state, says due to the current global public health crisis, collecting signatures in-person – and complying with onerous witness requirements – create a substantial risk to both the canvasser and the voter.

In addition, it says, many potential signees live in places like nursing homes and are unable to leave their homes or have visitors to sign petitions.

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to waive the witness requirement for petition signatures, reduce the amount of signatures required, delay the signature submission deadline beyond its current July 3, and allow for the submission of electronic signatures.

“Every voice should be heard in our democracy, and every vote should count equally,” said Paul Smith, vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, which is representing the plaintiffs. “Arkansans deserve the right to decide whether their voting district maps will be drawn by a neutral commission or politicians pursuing a partisan agenda.”

Political News

State Redistricting Deadlines
Redistricting
State Redistricting Deadlines
February 12, 2021
by TWN Staff

Title 13 of the United States Code requires the secretary of commerce to provide governors and the officials responsible for redistricting in each state with the census results. As a general rule, legislative and congressional redistricting must be completed before filing deadlines for the next primary... Read More

Subcommittee Assignments Give Murphy Strong Voice on National Security, COVID-19 Relief, and Trade
Congress
Subcommittee Assignments Give Murphy Strong Voice on National Security, COVID-19 Relief, and Trade
February 9, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., has been named to four subcommittees that will ensure she's a leading voice on national security, the continuing federal response to COVID-19, and international trade. The Winter Park Democrat is the only Florida Democrat who currently serves on either the... Read More

Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census
Census
Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census

The human loss from the coronavirus will not be reflected in the 2020 census because of a matter of timing, which could save a congressional seat for New York but cost Alabama one. Because the start of the pandemic in the U.S. and the April 1... Read More

World Hopes for Renewed Cooperation with US Under Biden
Foreign Affairs
World Hopes for Renewed Cooperation with US Under Biden

MEXICO CITY (AP) — World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new U.S. President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral cooperation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed. Many expressed hope Biden would right U.S. democracy two weeks... Read More

Capitol Police Step Up Security Ahead of Inauguration
Law Enforcement
Capitol Police Step Up Security Ahead of Inauguration
January 15, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Capitol Police have significantly ratcheted up security throughout the Capitol Complex ahead of next week's presidential inaugural ceremony. Measures include installing unscalable eight-foot tall fencing and the closing of several area roads. The department is also coordinating protection and response capabilities with... Read More

What They're Saying About the Attack on the U.S. Capitol
Political News
What They're Saying About the Attack on the U.S. Capitol
January 7, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Capitol is once again secure, though remnants of the mayhem that transpired Wednesday afternoon and evening remain. Much of the trash left behind by marauding protestors had been swept into piles by Thursday morning, though shards of glass still lay at the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top