State 'wet' initiative passes to ballot, county push '3/4 there'

Rob Hammons, director of elections for the Arkansas Secretary of State's office, left, stamps paperwork for ballot measure petitions as John Whiteside watches at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, July 7, 2014. Whiteside brought boxes of petitions to the office for a ballot measure to increase the state's minimum wage. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

In the last day, a statewide “wet” initiative that would do away with “dry” counties via constitutional amendment was turned in with more than the threshold number of signatures. For the local “wet” initiatieves in Faulkner, Craighead and Saline counties, the deadline is August 5, and while there have been enough signatures gathered in Saline and Craighead counties (barely), Faulkner County is “more than three-quarters of the way there,’ according to a spokesperson.

July 7 is the first day to file the signatures with local county clerks, but signatures can be gathered until Aug. 5, according to a release from Our Community, Our Dollars.

“[A]t least 38 percent of registered voters in each county must sign a petition confirming their desire to bring the matter to a vote,” on the Nov. 4 ballot, the release reads.

“In Saline County, 25,917 signatures were filed with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 25,600 signatures there; and 20,956 submitted in Craighead County with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 20,000 signatures there.”

... “it would be closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline before Our Community, Our Dollars files petitions in [Faulkner County]. Our Community, Our Dollars will continue to collect signatures in all three counties.”

“We did get off to a late start in Faulkner due to the tragic tornados that hit Mayflower and Vilonia and our desire to let those communities focus on their recovery efforts before collecting signatures,” committee spokesperson Natalie Ghidotti said in an email just before 5 p.m.

“But even with the late start, we are more than three-quarters there in terms of the necessary signatures to file. When we reach the 38 percent threshold of registered voters, we will file appropriately with the County Clerk. “ committee spokesperson Natalie Ghidotti said.”

Statewide initiative comfortably passes signature threshold.

Let Arkansas Decide, the committee behind the statewide “wet” ballot initiative, has turned in almost 85,000 signatures. To put the constitutional amendment that would end “dry” counties in Arkansas to the voters on the November ballot, at least 78,133 of the signatures have to be verified.

Monday was also the first day to begin filing for Our Community, Our Dollars, the group behind an initiative to give voters in Faulkner, Craighead and Saline counties a “wet” option.

They Win, You Lose, a pro-“dry” committee has been taking steps to challenge the validity of signatures, as well as discouraging people from signing petitions. This has included taking pictures of unattended canvassers’ tables and signature sheets to challenge the veracity of the canvassers’ sworn statement that all signatures were gathered in their presence.

They Win, You Lose took in $5250 from M.F. Dillard, the committee’s chairwoman and a political consultant for the Conway County Legal Beverages Association, in May.

The Give Arkansas a Raise Now committee also turned in signatures for its initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $7.50, $8 and $8.50 over the next three years.

The Our Community, Our Dollars committee and the Arkansans for Compassionate Care committee (medical marijuana) have until 5 p.m. today to turn in their signatures.

Also, Arkansans for Compassionate Care have conceded that they will not have enough signatures to put their medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb, can be reached by email at joe.lamb@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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