Secretary of State John Thurston has rejected a request for additional signature-gathering by the group seeking to amend the Constitution to allow open primaries and runoffs by ranked-choice voting.

Thurston had earlier ruled the petitions insufficient finding statements with the petitions didn’t make it clear enough that paid canvassers had first had criminal background checks required by law. The group, Open Primaries Arkansas, contends all HAD passed background checks and is contesting that finding before the Arkansas Supreme Court.


Meanwhile, the group asked for the 30 additional days allowed by law to “cure” signature deficiencies. Thurston said that won’t apply in this case because petitioners had to submit 89,151 signatures, the number necessary to reach the ballot, to qualify for the cure period. He ruled, however, that of the almost 100,000 signatures submitted, he’d culled 10,208 for a variety of reasons, leaving the petitions with 88,623 signatures.

He cited problems with dates on petitions and signatures gathered by canvassers before they’d submitted the required information to the secretary of state.


David Couch, attorney for the group, said a contest of this finding will be added to the pending Supreme Court case.

Here’s Thurston’s latest letter.


Open Primaries Arkansas yesterday announced a leadership committee. It includes, among others, former House Speaker Davy Carter, a Republican who’s had some interest in running for governor but would likely face difficulties in a Republican primary; Republican Rep. Dan Douglas of Bentonville; Susan Inman, a former state elections official and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for secretary of state in 2018, and several other business and community people.

CORRECTION: A member of the committee, Steve Clark of Fort Smith, was misidentified in my original post as being Steve Clark of Fayetteville, the former attorney general.