Arkansas Voters First

Arkansas Voters First, the group pushing a proposed constitutional amendment to establish a nonpartisan commission to draw legislative districts, will submit 50,000 more signatures today to get the amendment on the ballot.

Secretary of State John Thurston rejected the amendment at the filing deadline by disqualifying tens of thousands of signatures on the ground that the group said it had  “acquired” background checks for paid canvassers rather than saying they had “passed” background checks. The campaign contends the canvassers passed background checks.

The campaign went to the Supreme Court, which said Thurston should continue to review the facial sufficiency of the 100,000 signatures submitted (with 89,000 required) and gave the campaign 30 more days to gather signatures.

The campaign presumably now has enough to qualify for the ballot, if the Supreme Court agrees with either their legal argument on compliance with the law on background checks or that they were entitled to a “cure” period.

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The signatures are to be submitted this afternoon. Said a news release:

The Arkansas Voters First proposal would end the secret backroom deals politicians have used to manipulate political districts to protect their interests. The amendment creates a nine-member independent citizens commission. Commission members, who cannot have served as a politician or lobbyist for the last five years, will hold public hearings broadcast on TV or online. It will have three Republicans, three Democrats and three independent members, creating a fair, transparent, citizen-driven process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts.<

The proposal is opposed by the Republican Party, which controls redistricting of congressional seats in the legislature and state legislative seats through a partisan-controlled state board of election commissioners.

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