Case Summary

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

Arkansas Voters First announced that they submitted over 100,000 signatures on July 6, 2020. On July 14, the Secretary of State wrote in a letter to Arkansas Voters First that the proposed amendment would not be placed on the ballot. The Secretary of State ruled that all signatures collected by AVF were invalid because petitioners certified that they 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."

A motion to expedite was granted on July 28.

On August 27, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the Secretary of State's determination that the petition was insufficient and therefore the petitioners did not qualify for 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