On Thursday, July 23, the office of Secretary of State John Thurston issued a statement regarding recently denied petitions.
“There have been several comments and questions recently regarding the petitions that my office has denied. As Secretary of State and Chief Election Officer, it is my duty to follow the statutes and laws passed by the Arkansas State Legislature. I have taken a sworn oath to uphold the law and Constitution and my office will continue to follow the law as written. My office has filed a response in the lawsuit and we have nothing further to add at this time.”
Arkansas’ top election official rejected the petitions for three initiatives vying for spots on the November ballot, citing issues with background checks.
Secretary of State John Thurston on Tuesday said his office could not count the signatures turned in for the proposals to overhaul Arkansas’ redistricting process, create an open primary system and expand casino gambling.
Thurston said the groups did not comply with a state law requiring them to certify that their signature gatherers passed criminal background checks.
The campaigns submitted thousands of signatures last week in hopes of qualifying their proposals for the ballot. The proposals need at least 89,151 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify.
All three campaigns criticized Thurston’s decision. Arkansas Wins in 2020, the group behind the casino expansion effort, said it would file a petition for review with the state Supreme Court over the state’s move.