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Arkansas Supreme Court tosses ballot review case

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(The Center Square) – The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed a case challenging how the state reviews proposed ballot questions.

Conrad Reynolds, the Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative, Inc. and Restore Election Integrity Arkansas filed the lawsuit after Attorney General Tim Griffin did not approve the ballot questions and the secretary of state and board of elections refused to evaluate the measures.

One of the ballot questions would have required the state to use only paper ballots if approved by voters. A second question made proposed changes to absentee ballot procedures.

The plaintiffs asked the court to certify the ballot measures and declare a law requiring the attorney general to review the ballot questions as unconstitutional. The lawsuit also challenged a law that ballot petitions to have signatures from at least 50 counties.

The court said that while it had the authority under the constitution to approve the ballot measures, it could not until after the Secretary of State acted. Their ruling is based on an amendment.

“Amendment 80 did not remove the requirement that the Secretary of State determine sufficiency ‘in the first instance,'” the ruling said. “Thus, even under Amendment 80, the Secretary of State must make the initial decision before we can exercise original jurisdiction over the sufficiency of a petition.”

The court said it lacked original jurisdiction on the other counts.

“This unanimous decision is a tremendous victory for the people of Arkansas and the ability of citizens to cast votes on questions that are not vague or misleading,” Attorney General Tim Griffin said. “For decades, the Office of Attorney General has had the authority to review ballot title submissions to ensure they have an understandable name and title—as Arkansas law requires.”

A representative from the Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative did not immediately return a message from The Center Square.

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