I’m expecting a news release shortly on the precise number, but it appears the drive to put a minimum wage increase on the November ballot is roughly 15,000 signatures short of the 62,507 (I had this number incorrect originally) signatures of registered voters necessary to qualify the initiated act for the ballot.
Give Arkansas a Raise Now was informed last Friday that it was short and given 30 days to gather more signatures. That’s a tall order in a short period of time. Petitioners had gathered about 64,000 facially acceptable signatures among about more than 70,000 turned in, which means a valid signature rate of about 64 percent with 46,400 passing muster. At that same rate, canvassers will need to get about 22,000 signatures to get enough valid ones to clear the final hurdle.
For now, the secretary of state’s office is not responding to a relevant challenge: Liquor stores attempting to prevent a statewide vote on retail alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties have objected through a lawyer to the secretary of state’s setting a July 7 deadline for petitions. The Constitution says the deadline must be at least four months before the election — July 4 this year. Following long custom, the office set the deadline on the first business day following a deadline that fell on a holiday.
An attorney for a committee formed by liquor store owners (and led by Conway County liquor store owners) said the Constitution is precise and self-executing and can’t be ignored. If that opinion is correct, it would also affect the minimum wage proposal, whose initial petitions were also turned in July 7.
The letter from Elizabeth Robben Murray of the Friday Firm had also asked the secretary of state’s office not to accept further petitions intended to “cure” shortcomings in the original filings. The office is continuing to do so. The alcohol measure is a constitutional amendment and needs 78,133 signatures. It fell about 17,000 short.
UPDATE: The number needed is precisely 15,107.
The secretary of state notes that petitioners could still appeal disqualification of some not counted. It also gave the list of reasons that a whole sheet of multiple signatures can be disqualified. Steve Copley, who’s leading the drive, said the focus now is on gaining more signatures, but he left open the possibility of reviewing disqualified signatures. The campaign had focused on use of voter rolls and door-to-door canvassing in hopes of achieving a high rate of qualified signatures.
Here is a list of what causes an entire page of petition signatures to be invalidated:
1. Photocopy, not an original;
2. Not signed by a Canvasser;
3. A petition part signed by more than 1 Canvasser;
4. Not signed by a Canvasser under oath;
5. Canvasser’s verification dated earlier than the date the petition was signed by a Petitioner;
6. Not notarized;
7. Lacking a notary seal;
8. A petition part is lacking a notary signature or is notarized by more than1
9. A forged notary or Canvasser signature;
10. A notary notarizing his or her own signature;
11. A notary using the Great Seal of Arkansas;
12. Failure to attach a legible copy of the entire text of the measure to each
Petition sheet containing signatures;
13. Failure to attach the popular name and ballot title to each petition sheet containing signatures;
14. If litigated, a challenger may claim that the Canvasser failed to sign the affidavit in the presence of the notary;
15. If litigated, a challenger may claim that the affidavit of the Canvasser is false.
If the petition submitted for signature verification does not contain the required number of valid signatures of registered voters, the Secretary of State will notify the Sponsor, they will then have 30 days to do any or all of the following:
A) Solicit and obtain additional signatures;
B) Submit proof that all or some of the rejected signatures are good and should be counted;
C) Make the petition more definite or certain.