EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to view the original article.
By Larry Page
In my June 5 eNotes, I alerted you to the effort by a Pope County grass roots group Fair Play for Arkansas (FPA) to qualify a proposed constitutional amendment for the November general election ballot. If FPA’s initiative is approved by state voters, Pope County would no longer be a designated site for a casino as mandated by Amendment 100 passed by voters in 2018.
The state wide signature-gathering on petitions necessary to certify FPA’s initiative for the ballot was well underway until a federal circuit court dealt them a serious setback yesterday. From this point on, I will let the FPA spokesman explain. His comments are:
As you know, we recently began a petition drive to repeal the authorization for casino gaming in Pope County. This authorization was granted through a statewide Constitutional Amendment 100 in 2018 against the will of Pope County citizens who voted 61-39 against the measure. For 2 years now, we have adamantly been fighting against this moral corruption in our community through ongoing political and legal battles. In March 2020, we began the initiative process to remove Pope County from Amendment 100; however, we were quickly cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. In late May 2020, we thought we had received some relief when a federal judge ruled that the restrictions on the petitioning process were too cumbersome when balancing the needs of a democracy against the requirements of canvassing. This judge allowed a type of petition that did not require a canvasser or notary, but instead heightened the burden of fraud upon the signer of the petition. With these lightened restrictions in place, we moved forward with the petition process by sending out nearly 30,000 petitions to approximately 3,000 churches. Yesterday, June 15th, we were hit with a significant blow as the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling. Pursuant to the circuit court’s ruling, the petitions we earlier provided do not require a canvasser’s notarized signature and are, therefore, unusable. If we are going to move forward to meet our July 6, 2020, deadline, then we must obtain all 89,000+ signatures through the traditional petitioning process that requires a canvasser’s notarized signature on the petitions. If you or those within your sphere of influence would be willing to spend time over the next two weeks helping us obtain the needed signatures on the proper petition forms, we would be much obliged for the help.
Thank you for considering our request and for the assistance you have already given us.
You can obtain the correct petition form (one that requires a canvasser’s notarized signature) by calling Larry Walker with FPA at (479) 970-5351 or by emailing your request firstname.lastname@example.org. FPA can send a petition suitable for downloading, printing, and copying.
This was originally posted by Larry Page on the Arkansas Faith & Ethics Council.