A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state lawmakers to serving a maximum of 10 years qualified for the Nov. 6 general election ballot, an official in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. The Arkansas Term Limits committee’s ballot proposal also would limit lawmakers to serving three two-year terms as a state representative, two four-year terms as a senator or any terms that would exceed a total of 10 years in the General Assembly. The amendment wouldn’t affect members of Congress. If approved by voters, Arkansas’ legislative term limits would be the strictest in the nation, said John Mahoney, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Articles about voting issues in Arkansas.
Arkansas: Attorney general approves form of proposal to change legislative redistricting | Arkansas Blog
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday approved the form of a proposed constitutional amendment to change the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn every 10 years. This is a good idea, if far removed from reality at this moment. The proposal was submitted by Skip Cook on behalf of Arkansans for Governmental Reform. He’s been active in politics, particularly as a term limits advocate. He’s taking up here an idea that has had growing support around the U.S. — independent districting commissions. They are meant to cure partisan gerrymandering and, in some places, have produced cohesive, geographically sensible district lines that have cut both ways in impact on partisan interests.
A ballot initiative to change state legislative and U.S. Congressional redistricting in Arkansas has been approved by the Attorney General. The Arkansas Citizens Redistricting Amendment would establish a seven-member citizens redistricting commission to replace the state Board of Apportionment, a committee made up of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state that currently draws state legislative redistricting lines. “Things are a little different in Arkansas than in other states in that it is this three statewide elected officials who have the power, rather than the legislature itself, over the drawing of state legislative district lines,” explains Jay Barth, a political scientist at Hendrix College.
The sponsors of a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state lawmakers to serving 10 years said Friday that they have collected more than 135,000 signatures of registered voters in their attempt to qualify their measure for the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Thomas Steele of Little Rock, chairman of the Arkansas Term Limits committee, signed an affidavit stating that the committee turned in 135,590 signatures on parts of 19,714 petitions to the secretary of state’s office. To qualify for the ballot, sponsors of constitutional amendments are required to collect 84,859 signatures of registered voters. Friday was the deadline for sponsors of ballot measures to turn in their petitions.
Citing too many unanswered questions, the Union County Quorum Court voted 8-2 Thursday to table a discussion about the possibility of receiving new voting machines from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. The issue began earlier this year, when the state began to offer assistance to counties to purchase new voting machines. But in Union County, that offer has been rescinded more than once, leaving local officials unsure of how to proceed. Officials also voiced concerns with replacing equipment before the November election. Last month, Union County Judge Mike Loftin received a letter from Kelly Boyd, chief deputy Secretary of State, offering the county new voting machines for elections, for which the state would pay 50 percent of the costs. The letter stated that the total cost for the new machines for Union County would be around $440,000, using Election System & Software (ES&S).
The secretary of state’s office believes that just over two-thirds of the state’s counties will have new voting equipment by the time of the November general election. In one of the latest developments, the office has signed contracts with 10 counties to provide new voting equipment to them with the counties and the state splitting the tab, the chief deputy in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. Chief Deputy Kelly Boyd said he expects similar contracts to be signed with 11 other counties soon, and on top of that, 10 other counties are working with the office to finalize voting equipment requirements to clear the way for signing contracts. Twenty-one of the state’s 75 counties used the new voting equipment provided by Nebraska’s Election Systems & Software during the May 22 primaries, he said.
Arkansas: Lonoke County Voters Push for More Training after ‘Fiasco’ at Polls during Primary Election | FOX16
Problems at polling places on primary night in Lonoke County have many voters pushing for more training across the state. The Democratic Party of Arkansas has filed several complaints over issues there, with at least one more on its way from a former state lawmaker. The party first filed a lawsuit on election day, demanding all Lonoke County polling places remain open until 10 p.m., which was two and a half hours after they were supposed to close. Chief of Staff Taylor Riddle said Democrats could not vote for the first three hours of regular voting at the England Rec Center because machines were not set up and they had only Republican and non-partisan paper ballots. The Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately denied the party’s request so it filed a complaint with the State Board of Election Commissioners.
All but two of the 75 counties in Arkansas use voting machines that create paper copies of each ballot cast. Clerks in Union and Ouachita counties said they’ve never had a problem with their voting equipment. Election security experts have raised concerns about voting devices that don’t produce receipts for individual voters because the lack of those receipts makes it hard to ensure no votes were manipulated. Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford acknowledged those concerns are the biggest drawback to his county’s current voting machines, which the county plans to replace before the general election in November.
A three-judge panel was appointed last week in the Eastern District of Arkansas to preside over a lawsuit challenging the way Arkansas lawmakers enacted a legislative redistricting plan in 2011. In the suit, Julius J. Larry III, a retired civil-rights attorney in Houston, Texas, who became the publisher of the weekly Little Rock Sun black newspaper in 2013, contends that the boundaries of the 1st Congressional District were set to intentionally dilute black voting strength, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, to whom the case was assigned, on April 23 dismissed a second claim in which Larry said the state gerrymandered the boundaries in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, saying that because he lives in Little Rock, in the 2nd Congressional District, he lacked standing to pursue that claim.
Arkansas: Vote changes keeping Northwest Arkansas election officials on their toes | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Unopposed candidates won’t appear on the ballot for the first time, but school board candidates will join primary and judicial ones when voters head to the polls beginning Monday. And this time, voters need to bring a photo ID. Election officials do what they can to inform the electorate and keep the process simple. Washington County’s election commissioners sat around a table Wednesday trying to figure out which set of documents they would post at poll sites on Monday. Each set outlined different protocols for poll workers and voters depending on what happened with a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. The law was in limbo after a circuit judge deemed it unconstitutional April 26. The state wanted the Arkansas Supreme Court to halt the judge’s order blocking the law’s enforcement.