Arkansas

Overview

Arkansas Redistricting Process

Congressional

Congressional maps are enacted by the State General Assembly. The Governor can veto the plans.

The General Assembly can override a veto with a majority vote of all those elected. Republicans currently have veto proof majorities in both chambers.

Challenges to the maps are litigated in the State Supreme Court.

Legislative

The Arkansas Board of Apportionment draws the state’s legislative districts and consists of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. The Board has primary responsibility for legislative redistricting. On or before February 1 the year after each decennial U.S. Census, the Board will file its apportionment report with the Office of the Secretary of State. The plan will become effective 30 days after being filed unless it is revised by the Supreme Court of Arkansas during that same period.

Challenges to the maps are litigated in the State Supreme Court.

Source: Ark. Const. art. VIII, §§ 1-5.


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanHB 1836
      • Passed = April 13, 2011 (D-controlled)
      • Signed = April 14, 2011
    • Litigation History
      • Larry v. Arkansas, No. 4:18-cv-116 (E.D. Ark. Aug. 3, 2018): An Arkansas resident filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas challenging the state’s congressional plan as a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and as diluting African American votes in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On August 3, 2018, the district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds the plaintiff lacked standing to bring these claims.
  • Legislative
    • Commission’s Original Plans
      • Passed = July 29, 2011
    • Litigation History
      • Jeffers v. Beebe, 895 F.Supp.2d 920 (E.D. Ark. 2012): A group of Arkansas voters filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, challenging one of the senate districts in the legislative plans as a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On September 17, 2012, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish the existence of intentional discrimination or a violation of federal law in the legislative plans.

2000

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanSB 552
      • Passed = April 13, 2001 (D-controlled)
      • Enacted = April 20, 2001 (without governor’s signature)
  • Legislative

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Direct initiatives and all referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Direct initiatives are permitted to amend the state constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.

Single-Subject Rule
There is no single-subject rule.

Initiative Subject Restrictions
There are no initiative subject restrictions.

Signature Requirements
The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 10% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous general election, 8% for statutory amendments, and 6% for referendums. 891,509 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2018 General Election in Arkansas, so 89,151 signatures are required for constitutional amendments, 71,321 signatures are required for statutory amendments, and 53,491 signatures are required for referendums. 15 of the state's counties must contribute signatures equal to half of the designated percentage of the electors of such county. For constitutional amendments, that number is 5%, for initiatives that number is 4%, and for referendums that number is 3%. County information can be found here.

Submission Deadlines
Initiative petitions must be submitted no less than four months prior to the election in which the petition is to appear on the ballot (July 8, 2022). Referendums must be submitted 90 days after the adjournment of the General Assembly.

Circulation Period
There is no stated circulation period for initiative petitions.

Ballot Title and Summary
The ballot title and summary are written by the proponents, submitted to the Secretary of State for certification, and then delivered to the State Board of Election Commissioners. Expedited reviews for titles and summaries are permitted.

Other Requirements
A fiscal impact statement is not required. Circulators must register with the Secretary of State. There are no supermajority requirements. The General Assembly cannot amend or repeal an approved measure, without a two-thirds supermajority vote. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots, but not on primary or special election ballots or odd-year ballots.

Source: Ark. Const. art. V, §1. Ark. Code § 7-9 (2019). Arkansas 2020 Initiatives and Referenda Handbook


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