Case Summary

On July 17, 2020, an Arkansas voter, Arkansas Voters First, and Open Primaries Arkansas filed suit against John Thurston, acting in his official capacity as Arkansas's Secretary of State, contending that the Secretary failed to review, certify, and take actions with the ballot initiative petitions submitted by both organizations.

On July 6, 2020, Arkansas Voters First announced that they had submitted over 100,000 signatures and, on July 14, the Secretary of State wrote a letter to Arkansas Voters First stating that the proposed amendment would not be placed on the ballot. The Secretary of State had determined that all signatures collected by AVF were invalid because the petitioners only certified that they had acquired (rather than passed) criminal background checks on canvassers. A.C.A. § 7-9-601(b)(3) reads in part "... the sponsor shall certify to the Secretary of State that each paid canvasser in the sponsor’s employ has passed a criminal background check in accordance with this section."

On July 28, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted the defendants' motion to expedite. On August 27, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the Secretary of State's determination that the petition was insufficient and, therefore, the plaintiffs were not entitled to a cure period or any other relief. On September 10, a petition for rehearing was denied.

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Arkansas Supreme Court - CV-20-454