Primary Authority: Drawn and enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly, subject to the Governor's veto. The General Assembly can override a veto with a majority vote in each chamber. Republicans currently have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.
If a bill is presented to the Governor during session, the Governor has 5 days to sign or veto it; otherwise, it becomes law without signature. If the bill is delivered during the final 5 days of session, the Governor has 20 days to sign it; otherwise, it becomes law without signature. Sundays are excluded from these calculations.
Mapping Timeline: Not specified.
Redistricting Criteria: None.
Map Challenges: Not specified.
Primary Authority: Drawn and adopted by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment, a 3-member body comprised of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. Official board actions require a majority vote. [Ark. Const. art. VIII, § 1]
Mapping Timeline: Final maps must be adopted and filed with the Secretary of State by February 1 of the year after the decennial census. Maps become effective 30 days after filing unless proceedings for revision are instituted in the Arkansas Supreme Court. [Ark. Const. art. VIII, § 4]
Redistricting Criteria: As nearly equal in population as practicable; Contiguous; No counties split unless legally necessary. [Ark. Const. art. VIII, §§ 2, 3] Minimize political subdivision splits; respect communities of interest; Avoid pairing incumbents; Minimize partisanship. [Ark. Bd. of Apportionment Redistricting Criteria & Goals]
Map Challenges: Filed in the Arkansas Supreme Court. Within 30 days after the final plans are filed with the Secretary of State, any citizen or taxpayer can file an application to compel the Board to perform its duties or to revise any arbitrary action or abuse of discretion by the Board in creating the plans. Any final judgment modifying a plan shall become effective upon filing with the Secretary of State. [Ark. Const. art. VIII, § 5]
Ballot Measure & Referendum Processes
Kinds of Ballot Measures: Direct initiatives and 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 state constitution.
Single-Subject Rule: No.
Initiative Subject Restrictions: No.
Signature Requirements: Constitutional amendments require signatures equal to 10% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last general election, 8% for statutory initiatives, and 6% for referendums. For constitutional amendments, petitions must include signatures from each of at least 15 counties in the state equal to no less than 5% of the votes cast in such county for a gubernatorial candidate in the last general election, 4% for statutory initiatives; and 3% for referendums. 907,037 people voted for a gubernatorial candidate in the 2022 general election in Arkansas, so 90,704 signatures are required for constitutional amendments, 72,563 signatures are required for statutory initiatives, and 54,423 signatures are required for referendums. County vote totals can be found on the Arkansas Secretary of State website.
Submission Deadlines: Initiative petitions must be submitted at least 4 months prior to the election in which the petition is to appear on the ballot (July 4, 2024). Referendums must be submitted within 90 days after the adjournment of the General Assembly.
Circulation Period: Not specified.
Ballot Title and Summary: Ballot title and summary are written by the proponents, submitted to the Secretary of State for certification, then delivered to the State Board of Election Commissioners. Expedited reviews for titles and summaries are permitted.
Other Requirements: A fiscal impact statement is 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 2/3 supermajority vote. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots, but not on primary or special election ballots or odd-year ballots.
[Ark. Const. art. V, § 1; Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-9-101 — 7-9-601; Ark. Sec. of State 2022 Initiatives and Referenda Handbook]
Previous Redistricting Cycles
- Original Plan – HB 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.
- Commission’s Original Plans
- 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.
- Original Plan – SB 552
- Passed = April 13, 2001 (D-controlled)
- Enacted = April 20, 2001 (without governor’s signature)
In The News
- Judges Toss Part of Suit Challenging Arkansas Redistricting, AP (10/24/22)
- 2nd Lawsuit Filed Over Arkansas Congressional Redistricting, AP (3/22/22)
- Lawsuit Challenges Arkansas Congressional Redistricting Plan, AP (3/8/22)
- Federal Judge Dismisses Arkansas Redistricting Lawsuit, AP (2/23/22)
- Judge to Toss Arkansas Redistricting Case Unless DOJ Joins, AP (2/18/22)
- ACLU Sues Over State House Redistricting Map, Says Plan Under-Represents Black Arkansans, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (12/29/21)
- Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Create Citizens Panel to Draw Legislative, Congressional Districts in Arkansas, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (12/29/21)
- Arkansas Redistricting Maps Approved by Governor Hutchinson, Board of Apportionment, KATV (11/30/21)
- Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Final Redistricting Map, UA Little Rock Public Radio (10/7/21)
- Return of Arkansas Lawmakers on Tap for Redistricting, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (9/8/21)
- Former Chief Justice to Coordinate Arkansas Redistricting, AP (6/8/21)
- Arkansas Governor Plans Special Session on Income Tax Cuts, AP (4/22/21)
- Arkansas House Passes Resolution Extending 2021 Session, Allows For Later Reconvening, UA Little Rock Public Radio (3/22/21)
- Ex-GOP Chief to Lead Redistricting; Rutledge Vows no Partisanship in New Legislative Maps, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (1/20/21)
- Republicans Flip Plurality-Black State House District that was Considered Safely Democratic, Washington Examiner (11/9/20)
- Judge Strikes Down Law That Killed Three Ballot Measures, Arkansas Times (9/24/20)
- Arkansas Judge Dismisses Suit Over Redistricting Proposal, AP (9/16/20)
- Districting Suit Likely to Lose, Judge Says - then Rules Against it, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (9/16/20)
- Court Takes Under Advisement Last-Ditch Plea on Constitutional Amendments, Arkansas Times (9/14/20)
- Group Sues Challenging Arkansas' Rejection of Petitions, AP (9/2/20)
- Arkansas Court Blocks Redistricting, Open Primary Measures, AP (8/27/20)
- Advocates Seek to raise Awareness of Redistricting Process and Challenges, Texarkana Gazette (8/22/20)
- Arkansas Amendments to Give Voters More Control over their Elections Advance to 2020 Ballot, Independent Voters News (8/21/20)
- Amendment Bids Certified for State Ballot, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (8/21/20)
- Secretary of State Argues Two Proposed Amendments aren't Entitled to Gather more Signatures, Arkansas Times (8/20/20)
- Ad Push Begins for Nonpartisan Redistricting Amendment to End Gerrymandering, Arkansas Times (8/19/20)
- Special Master Says Unmeetable Canvassing Requirement Could Doom Open Primary and Legislative Redistricting Amendments, Arkansas Times (8/10/20)
- Drive for Nonpartisan Redistricting Amendment to File More Signatures Today, Arkansas Times (8/5/20)
- Arkansas Supreme Court Appoints Master on Ballot Petition Appeals, Arkansas Times (7/24/20)
- Arkansas Board Approves Ballot Title for Proposed Amendment, AP (7/23/20)
- Secretary of State Says Proposals don't Qualify for Election, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (7/15/20)
- Arkansas Initiative Bids Turn in Signatures Amid Pandemic, AP (7/6/20)
- Anti-Gerrymandering Petition Drive Held in Northwest Arkansas, 4029 News (6/26/20)
- Appeals Court Stays Ruling Easing Arkansas Petition Rules, AP (6/15/20)
- Redistricting effort can collect signers by mail, but not electronically, Talk Business & Politics (5/26/20)
- Arkansas redistricting group seeks easing of petition rules, AP (4/22/20)
- Legislative redistricting amendment filed with Secretary of State, Talk Business & Politics (3/5/20)
- Lawmakers try to alter voter-approved redistricting reforms, AP (3/5/20)
- More states to use redistricting reforms after 2020 census, AP (3/5/20)